Editor's note: Blizzard conditions arrived in the Seacoast region Saturday. Get the latest updates here.
A blizzard warning has been issued for the region, including Seacoast New Hampshire and York County in southern Maine, as a nor'easter tracks toward New England, according to forecasters at the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.
Forecasters with NWS now say more than 18 inches of light powdery snow could hit the region Saturday along the coast. Communities in and around Portsmouth, Dover, Rochester, Hampton and Exeter in New Hampshire and Kittery, Eliot, York, South Berwick, Kennebunk and Wells in Maine, will see the most snow.
Meteorologist Craig Cornwell said to expect hazardous driving conditions and power outages due to winds of more than 55 mph. These strong winds will be worst along the coast, he said Friday.
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How much snow is coming to the Seacoast?
Coastal areas are expected to see snowfall at a rate of one to three inches per hour. Snowfall is expected to taper off Saturday night.
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“This will be a pretty significant nor’easter,” Cornwell said. “Snowfall intensity will increase in the afternoon. Very gusty to strong winds, combined with snowfall rates will create very hazardous travel conditions and limited visibility. You will not want to be on the roads during that time period.
“This is one of the strongest coastal storms we’ve seen in the last few years as far as the strength of the storm and its potential impact to the coastal communities,” Cornwell said. “The expected winds alone are enough to cause power outages. The good news is the snow should remain on the fluffier side instead of the heavy wet snow that can weigh down branches and cause further outages.
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Unitil, which has a service area that includes Exeter, Hampton and surrounding towns, issued a statement Thursday about its preparations and offered advice to residents.
“Should we experience blizzard conditions, travel will be difficult on the road and bucket trucks are unable to extend their arms safely due to the elevated wind gusts,” Unitil media relations manager Alec O’Meara said. “While these conditions may delay restoration efforts, we are prepared for this storm and our crews will be ready to go, should outages occur.”
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Unitil recommended residents prepare by checking and making an inventory of the following items: flashlights and fresh batteries, a battery-operated radio and clock, bottled water, canned foods and a manual can opener, a list of important phone numbers and a car charger for cell phones and a first aid kit.
Eversource, the state's largest utility, said it is also ready to respond to the potential blizzard.
“We’ve had a close eye on this storm since the beginning of the week and continue to carefully track its path using several weather services and storm models,” said Eversource President of New Hampshire Operations Doug Foley. “This storm continues to be tough to track, and we aren’t leaving anything to chance. We have hundreds of line, tree and service workers who will be geared up and ready to respond to this storm and any damage it may cause to the electric system. We also remind customers that restorations may take longer as we ensure the safety of our employees who will be responding in challenging road conditions.”
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Central Maine Power: cmpco.com
This article originally appeared on Fosters Daily Democrat: Seacoast blizzard: Latest on storm heading to NH, southern Maine