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Snowstorm Blasts New England, Roads Slippery In Chilly South

February 13, 1988

Undated (AP) _ More than a foot of blowing snow and sheets of ice turned highways into toboggan runs Friday from the Deep South to New England, closing schools and government offices, halting presidential campaigns and stalling travelers.

Gale-force wind tore down 15 stories of metal construction scaffolding around a building in White Plains, N.Y. At least 22 traffic deaths were blamed on the storm, but one storm-related pileup helped two people escape from a kidnapper.

The storm had spread generally a foot or less of snow from Texas to Michigan on Thursday. But it strengthened Friday and parts of Maine and Vermont were expected to get up to 2 feet of snow, with up to 16 inches in western Massachusetts and 20 inches in northern New York state and the Catskills, the National Weather Service said.

″You’ve got a major snowstorm out there,″ meteorologist Gary Schmeling said in Boston.

″It’s terrible out there,″ said New Hampshire state police dispatcher Norman St. Hilaire, reporting numerous vehicles sliding off highways.

″We’ve got problems all over the place,″ Jerry Valek, a New York Thruway dispatcher, said of conditions on the highway from New York City to Albany.

Democratic presidential hopeful Paul Simon canceled his morning schedule in New Hampshire because of the storm. Bob Dole and Pat Robertson couldn’t get out of the state for appearances elsewhere. Jesse Jackson and Al Gore, in Virginia, and Jack Kemp, in Washington, couldn’t get into the state. Vice President Bush was holed up in his hotel.

New Hampshire had wind gusting to 60 mph and Concord got a foot of snow. Up to 2 feet of snow was predicted in the state’s White Mountains.

Only Richard Gephardt had a campaign event made to order for such a day - he went to watch a dog sled race in Laconia.

Boston’s Logan International Airport closed for about six hours because of poor visibility in blowing snow and hundreds of travelers camped out in waiting lounges. The city got 6 inches of snow but the temperature was 34 degrees; nearly 2 inches of rain fell on Cape Cod. Massachusetts state police reported traffic tieups on all major roads, dozens of minor accidents and motorists abandoning cars.

Almost all New Hampshire legislative hearings were canceled, and state offices closed at noon. And shopping malls and businesses closed at the start of the lucrative Valentine’s Day weekend.

Blowing snow led some towns to close municipal offices in northwestern Massachusetts and North Adams Mayor John Barrett urged businesses not to open. Michigan’s House of Representatives closed early for the week Thursday.

Schools were closed because of snow or icy roads Friday in parts of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Ohio.

Wind gusting to 50 mph collapsed 15 stories of scaffolding around a condominium tower in White Plains early in the morning. No injuries were reported but two nearby buildings were damaged and five parked cars were flattened, police said. ″It was howling out there,″ said police Lt. Ronnie Rossi.

Twelve to 14 inches of snow fell in the Berkshires of estern Massachusetts, where up to 16 inches of snow was expected, and 7 to 10 inches accumulated at Sheffield, Mass., the weather service said. More than 13 inches of snow fell at Jewett, N.Y., in the Catskills, and parts of southern Vermont got a foot of snow. Shaftsbury, Vt., had wind gusting to 45 mph and 3- to 6-foot snowdrifts, the weather service said.

In Maine, snow driven by wind gusting to 30 mph hampered visibility at the Portland International Jetport, preventing some planes from landing, said airport manager Barry Valentine.

Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport closed for more than two hours while 8 inches of snow was removed. U.S. Air canceled flights into Albany, N.Y., during the morning.

Cold air pushed southward in the storm’s wake and Friday morning temperatures were only in the teens in the South. In Mississippi, lows were in the 20s along the Gulf Coast and Meridian had a record 17 with a mere 10 degrees at Tupelo.

Other record lows Friday included 11 at El Dorado, Ark.; 2 at Paducah, Ky., 27 below zero at St. Cloud, Minn., and 32 below zero at Duluth, Minn.

Up to 3 inches of snow, freezing rain and sleet left roads extremely slippery Friday across northern sections of Mississippi and Alabama, and into parts of Tennessee and Kentucky, and many vehicles slid into ditches.

Among the deaths blamed on the weather was that of a Kentucky woman who died Thursday when her car ran underneath a tractor-trailer that had been hit by a skidding truck south of Bowling Green, police said.

While the accident slowed traffic, two kidnap victims jumped from a car and ran to safety, said state Trooper Jackie Strode. Later, Larry F. Johnson, 43, who recently left a drug rehabilitation program in Kokomo, Ind., was captured early Friday six miles south of Bowling Green, police said.

Johnson allegedly wrecked three stolen cars and took two additional people hostage in the Bowling Green area before his arrest, police said. Those hostages escaped unharmed while pushing a commandeered pickup truck from a ditch.

In addition to the woman killed in Kentucky, other traffic deaths attributed to the weather included five in Arkansas, four in Texas, three in Tennessee and Indiana, two each in New York and Vermont, and one in Michigan and Maryland.

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