Major Snowfall Predicted for Area

West Lebanon — Supermarket parking lots were crowded yesterday afternoon as residents started preparing for the winter storm that could dump upwards of a foot of snow on the Upper Valley today and tomorrow.

Outside of Price Chopper on Route 12A, Cheryl Stone pushed a cart full of essentials — including dog food, toilet paper and extra water. Her agenda for today?

“Tough it out and let it come,” she said. “Because there’s nothing we can do about it, not with Mother Nature. She’s going to give us what she wants, that’s one thing we can’t control.”

Peter Banacos, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service in Burlington, anticipated that the snow — which he said would start in the pre-dawn morning hours and gradually intensify as the day goes on — could total 10 to 12 inches in White River Junction and anywhere from a foot to 18 inches on the Granite State side of the Valley.

That forecast was enough for most area schools to err on the side of caution. By 8 p.m. last night, the majority of districts in the Upper Valley had already canceled school .

Banacos said that while today’s Nor’easter — dubbed Winter Storm Nemo by media outlets — would amount to a “pretty decent snow storm,” it would be unlikely to bring blizzard conditions farther inland than the New Hampshire Seacoast.

“For it to be a blizzard, you need at least 33 mile-per-hour winds for three hours and visibility for less than a quarter-mile,” he said. “We’re just not going to have that combination in the Upper Valley.”

That’s good news for people like Bob Civiak, a Lebanon retiree who already knew what he planned to do when he returned from some routine shopping yesterday.

“I’m going to go home and wax my skis,” he said, grinning.

A cross-country skiier, Civiak said he’d head “right out the door” on a 10-mile loop toward Plainfield and back.

Despite having to work today, Dave Steck — a member of the maintenance crew at Kimball Union Academy — was hoping to see all that Winter Storm Nemo has to offer.

“I hope we get slammed,” he said. “I mean, it’s a snowstorm. It keeps the population down. I don’t want too many people living here.”

While he wasn’t sure whether classes would be canceled at KUA today, Steck anticipated shoveling some sidewalks and facing whatever challenges might arise with the storm.

“I work inside and outside, but that’s part of the game,” he said. “I love this area, it’s beautiful.”

Several schools already cancelled classes for today, including Oxbow Union High School in Bradford and Mid Vermont Christian School in Quechee.

The school day wasn’t the only event to change in anticipation of the storm. New Hampshire’s state swim meet, to be held at University of New Hampshire in Durham, was postponed from today until Sunday. And the opening reception for AVA Gallery and Art Center’s “Best of the Upper Valley High School Exhibition” has been rescheduled from tonight to Feb. 15, according to the gallery’s Facebook page.

Dartmouth College moved up the start time of women’s hockey and basketball contests today to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.

Dartmouth also rescheduled the women’s basketball game against Cornell from tomorrow to Sunday at 2 p.m.

The storm’s impending path to New England offered a chance for newly minted Gov. Maggie Hassan to brush up on her emergency preparedness. Hassan issued a statement yesterday encouraging Granite Staters to make sure they have the supplies needed to weather the storm and check on their neighbors, especially the elderly and those with disabilities.

“Road travel will be particularly hazardous during the height of the storm, so if you can, please stay off the roads and always stay safe,” she said.

Mark Bosma from Vermont’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security released a statement in preparation of a “good old fashioned Vermont snowfall.”

“The new snow cover is surely a welcome development for skiiers and other winter outdoor enthusiasts, but there are always some thing to remember when it snows,” he said. “Drive safe, check on your neighbors, and otherwise keep yourself from the health hazards that present themselves in even the tamest of storms.”

Stone, the 12A grocery shopper, works at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center as a night nurse. Yesterday she had already taken off work for tonight in order to avoid the drive back to her Enfield home when her shift would end at 1:30 a.m.

“Even though I have four-wheel drive, when you got a blizzard coming at you, you can’t see with the snow blowing,” she said.

Ben Conarck can be reached at bconarck@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.