No joke: Snow hits northern New England on April Fools' Day

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — It's April Fools' Day, but this is no joke: People across northern New England woke up to a foot of heavy, wet snow on parts of the region Saturday and conducted weekend business as more fell throughout the day.

The storm caused power outages and numerous highway accidents. By evening, the number of electric customers without power across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine had dropped to close to zero from overnight totals that reached into the tens of thousands. The winter storm warning for Vermont and New Hampshire expired, but remained in place for parts of Maine until 8 p.m.

"This is Mother Nature's idea of an April Fools' joke," said meteorologist Eric Schwibs of the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

While it might be disheartening to see snow so late in the season, it's not unusual. The record for Portland, Maine, was 15 inches (38 centimeters) on April 10, 1906.

Winter already brought more snow than normal to northern New England this year. Portland recorded 84.4 inches (214 centimeters) of snow, 2 feet (61 centimeters) above normal for the city; Concord, New Hampshire, had 73.8 inches (187 centimeters), about 15 inches (38 centimeters) above normal.

While the storm may have sent some people back to bed, friends from Massachusetts on a visit to Maine were reveling in the snow.

"If you live in New England, you have to expect Mother Nature to keep you on your toes," said Erik Lustgarten, of Newburyport.

"It couldn't be on a better day, April Fools'," Tracy Neff said. "I think it's fabulous. It's beautiful, it's fun, everyone's festive."

Bradford, New Hampshire, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of the capital, Concord, reported 18 inches (46 centimeters) of snow while the nearby town of Washington reported 17 inches (43 centimeters).

Snow-related crashes were reported on the Maine Turnpike. In New Hampshire, a loaded tractor-trailer rolled over on Interstate 95 in Hampton, blocking three lanes. The 34-year-old driver, a resident of Chelsea, Massachusetts, was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

In southern New England, the first day of April came in with a wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain, but most accumulation was expected to fade away quickly as more spring-like temperatures were forecast to warm up the region.

A flood warning was issued for several Massachusetts counties after many areas received up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain overnight. And police in Westport, Connecticut, warned of roads possibly flooding during high tide.


Associated Press writers David Sharp in Portland, Maine, and Denise Lavoie in Boston contributed to this story.