Early Blast of Winter Brings Snow, Heavy Rain
Thousands of people were without electricity today and schools were closed as parts of the East dug out from as much as 27 inches of snow piled up by a ``nor’easter″ storm.
``It seems like we had a summer and all of a sudden we have a winter _ there wasn’t much in between,″ said Ernest Mongold, emergency services director in northwest Virginia’s Shenandoah County, which got nearly a foot of snow.
Snow fell along the Appalachians from North Carolina all the way into Maine, with the heaviest accumulations in the central part of the chain.
In northern West Virginia, Terra Alta counted 27 inches of snow by this morning, and surrounding areas had about 2 feet. In adjacent western Maryland, Oakland had 24 inches and Keysers Ridge had 20. Up to 2 feet fell in the mountains of northwestern and western Pennsylvania, and around 20 inches fell in New York’s Finger Lakes region, the National Weather Service said.
``Everything’s just dead,″ said Mike Feather, who was visiting his parents in Terra Alta and had to postpone his return trip home to Front Royal, Va.
``The main routes are closed. All the side streets are closed. And the wind’s blowing so bad. The visibility is just zero. It’s pretty nasty.″
One traffic death in Pennsylvania was blamed on sleet-covered pavement, and two died on wet roads in New Jersey.
Sections of highway were closed during the night while crews tried to plow the snow, including Interstate 68 in western Maryland, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and Interstates 81 and 87 in New York.
``All the truckers who have pulled off say they can’t see, it’s blowing too hard,″ said Don Paul, owner of a truck stop in Somerset, Pa. ``You can’t see 20 feet out from the windows here.″
Syracuse, N.Y., had 17 inches of snow by midmorning, for a record November total of 31.4 inches.
``The snow is heavy, it’s just like cement, and weighing down power lines and tree limbs,″ said Jim Cosgrove, a spokesman for Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.
He said about 40,000 customers were without power this morning, mostly in rural areas around Syracuse. Thousands more were blacked out elsewhere in upstate New York and in parts of West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
Dozens of schools also were closed in parts of the region.
The snow was welcomed at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Champion, Pa., which will open for skiing on Thursday _ the earliest it has ever opened all 36 slopes and trails, according to spokeswoman Marcy Rigby.
``I’ve got powder that I hope to see in January and February, much less the week before Thanksgiving,″ said said Joe Stevens, spokesman for Snowshoe Ski Resort in the mountain of eastern West Virginia.
New Jersey got it from all sides: wind-driven rain and surf along the coast, snow in the northwest hills and a threat of flooding along the Passaic River.
Police in Wayne, N.J., urged residents along the Passaic to seek shelter and dozens did leave, although no flooding was reported.
A northeaster or ``nor’easter″ develops when a low pressure system follows the coast, with its counterclockwise motion dragging wet air in from the Atlantic and cold air down from Canada.
But weather service meteorologist Mike Wooldridge in New York noted the storm was ``not even close″ to more serious ones of recent years, including the ``great nor’easter″ of December 1992 and another one in March 1994.