CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Governor John Lynch has declared a state of emergency in the Granite State, and urged its residents to stay off the road.
"It's a mess," said spokesman Jim Van Dongen at New Hampshire's Department of Emergency Management. "A lot of secondary roads are closed, because trees and limbs have fallen on them."
New Hampshire was the hardest hit in northern New England by the storm that brought rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow through the night. The mix was continuing through the day .
Public Service Company of New Hampshire reported about 230,000 of the 500,000 homes and businesses it serves were without power as of 8 a.m. this morning. The utility said it could take several days to have power fully restored.
"Early reports indicate that the total number of outages from this storm are unprecedented, having already surpassed the ice storm in January 1998, which left 55,000 customers without power at its peak," the utility said. Ice-covered roads blocked by fallen trees during the infamous Ice Storm of '98 isolated entire communities.
The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative said more than 41,000 of its homes and businesses also had no power around dawn.
At least one community, Goffstown, opened a shelter because so many residents had no power, or heat.
Fire departments all over the state responded through the morning to reports of transformer explosions, wires and utility poles down, trees burning on wires or trees falling on homes.
For many people, the ride to work was like skiing a slalom course, dodging fallen trees, wires and other debris, while navigating icy roads in the pouring rain and sleet.