By Sara Brown
---- — Several inches of wet and heavy snow seemed to catch most of the Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire off guard yesterday, creating treacherous road conditions for drivers while knocking out electricity for hundreds of homes and businesses throughout the region.
The lights went out for many of those customers soon after 3 p.m.
At about 4:20 p.m., National Grid reported 2,688 homes and businesses in Essex County were without power — 1,836 of them were from in Haverhill and 816 in Methuen. The utility’s officials estimated power would be back within an hour
Most of the power was restored by 6:30 p.m. in both communities.
Meteorologist Ryan Breton said the storm came as a bit of a surprise to most people.
“It was certainly unexpected,” Breton said. “It was suppose to change to rain early on, however, it started as rain then quickly turned into snow because of the wind.”
Brenton said the snow looked light and fluffy but that wasn’t the case.
“They were big flat flakes with a thick consistency to them which caused a lot of the power outages,” he said.
He said that Merrimack Valley accumulated close to six inches of snow.
Meanwhile, travel on area roads proved hazardous as snow plows tried to clear the roads as soon as possible.
Methuen Police Department tweeted at about 1:00 p.m. that the roads were becoming slick in the area and cautioned drivers to drive carefully.
However, that didn’t stop the various motor vehicles accidents that occurred throughout the Valley and in New Hampshire towns.
Massachusetts State Police said that in the span of four hours, there were eight minor accidents in Haverhill on the city’s major highways.
At 11:00 a.m., a woman from New Hampshire was transported to Lawrence General Hospital after she smashed her car into the guardrail near Interstate 495 South. Twitter accounts reported that the woman was five months pregnant. But State Police could not confirm the reports. Her injuries are believed to be minor.
Just 10 minutes later, another woman from New Hampshire was transported to Lawrence General Hospital.
At about 11:11 a.m., a 58 year old Milford woman was transported to the hospital after her car hit the median and rolled over on Rt 125. Police said they didn’t think her injuries were life threatening.
Lawrence police tweeted a picture of accident on Haverhill Street involving an Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA) bus and a white SUV at 3:00 p.m. They did not respond to calls from the Eagle Tribune about the incident.
Haverhill St was busy all day as Lawrence Fire Department evacuated a block of houses due to a gas leak yesterday morning.
Columbia Gas was working on Haverhill Street, with a police detail when the leak was detected at 10:00 a.m.
The Lawrence Fire Department immediately evacuated houses in the area of 510 Haverhill St., for safety.
The department cleared from the the scene at 3:19 p.m. where National Grid worked on restoring power.
Residents were soon allowed back in their homes. No injuries have been reported.
More than 5,000 homes and businesses across southern and central New Hampshire were without power late yesterday afternoon and early last night while police responded to dozens of minor accidents after the snow made the roads slicks..
A winter weather warning remained in effect until 9 last night in Rockingham and Strafford counties, and a winter weather advisory was posted for Belknap, Merrimack and southern Carroll counties until 9 p.m.
Salem police tweeted about responding to more than 20 accidents during the heaviest part of the snow. Vets Parkway was closed for about an hour as police and road crews responded to cars that spun off the road.
In Plaistow, a man crashed his car into a tree at 2:00 p.m. on Crane Crossing Road. Police said he wasn’t injured.
A dispatcher at the State Police Troop B barracks in Bedford said police responded to 40 to 50 accidents yesterday afternoon.
Police urged people who are able to do so to put off travel until crews have a chance to clear the roads.
The National Weather Service forecast a slight chance of snow showers today between noon and 2 p.m., mostly cloudy a high temperature near 37 and winds from Southwest wind 7 to 15 mph. There is a 20 percent chance of precipitation.
Tonight, the forecast calls for a low of 24.
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