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Welcoming Winter: Upper Valley Residents Rejoice Over Weekend Snowfall

  • Peter Thornton, 10, of South Royalton, Vt. digs a tunnel through a snow bank left by a plow Sunday, December 15, 2013. "I'm hoping there'll be enough snow left tomorrow for no school," said Thornton.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Peter Thornton, 10, of South Royalton, Vt. digs a tunnel through a snow bank left by a plow Sunday, December 15, 2013. "I'm hoping there'll be enough snow left tomorrow for no school," said Thornton.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Raymond Becker Sr. prepares to pull the Jeep he uses to plow out of a snow bank in front of the house where he grew up in Royalton, Vt. Sunday, December 15, 2013. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Raymond Becker Sr. prepares to pull the Jeep he uses to plow out of a snow bank in front of the house where he grew up in Royalton, Vt. Sunday, December 15, 2013.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jeff Lewis, of South Royalton, right, looks up from his shoveling to see Vermont Law School student Ben Gustafson, of Minneapolis, Minn., left, snowshoe past on his way to hike up Kent's Ledge Sunday, December 15, 2013. "We'll see how far I get," said Gustafson. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Jeff Lewis, of South Royalton, right, looks up from his shoveling to see Vermont Law School student Ben Gustafson, of Minneapolis, Minn., left, snowshoe past on his way to hike up Kent's Ledge Sunday, December 15, 2013. "We'll see how far I get," said Gustafson.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Peter Thornton, 10, of South Royalton, Vt. digs a tunnel through a snow bank left by a plow Sunday, December 15, 2013. "I'm hoping there'll be enough snow left tomorrow for no school," said Thornton.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Raymond Becker Sr. prepares to pull the Jeep he uses to plow out of a snow bank in front of the house where he grew up in Royalton, Vt. Sunday, December 15, 2013. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Jeff Lewis, of South Royalton, right, looks up from his shoveling to see Vermont Law School student Ben Gustafson, of Minneapolis, Minn., left, snowshoe past on his way to hike up Kent's Ledge Sunday, December 15, 2013. "We'll see how far I get," said Gustafson. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Hanover — The Upper Valley was blanketed with 8 to 14 inches of snow this weekend, and many residents gladly welcomed such a large snowfall so early in the season.

Matt Osborn, of Norwich, spent an hour on Oak Hill in Hanover on Sunday, and said it’s rare to see such a healthy snowfall this early in December.

“I’ve learned that when you have good snow at home, you go skiing. You don’t put it off. When we have good snow, you don’t know how long it will last,” Osborn said, recalling one year when he remembers getting a good amount of snow in December, but then watched it quickly melt away and not return the rest of the winter.

Osborn said that he’d already made a trip to Stowe and Craftsbury this season, but this was the first time he’d been able to ski close to home, and he said he’s happier when he has a chance to ski locally.

“There are a lot of people here who love winter,” Osborn said. “And if you hated winter, you’d be unhappy for a good part of the year.”

The storm, which started about 6 p.m. on Saturday and tapered off Sunday morning, dropped about 10 inches of snow on Lebanon and as much as 14 inches in South Royalton and Woodstock. Snowfall varied throughout the Upper Valley, with Bethel and Randolph seeing 13 inches, Chelsea, Norwich and Croydon seeing 11 inches and Lyme with nearly 10 inches.

In Vermont, Windsor and Orange counties were some of the “winners” in terms of snowfall, said Eric Evenson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Burlington.

The storm brought a southeast wind, which enhances snowfall on the eastern side of the Green Mountains. Comparatively, areas on the western side of the Green Mountains only saw between 3 and 8 inches.

Snowfall throughout the rest of New England ranged from 2 to 8 inches in Connecticut and Rhode Island to almost 11 inches in northern Massachusetts and nearly 17 inches on Maine’s southern coast, according to the National Weather Service.

“We term it a kind of low-end nor’easter,” said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist for the Weather Service. “It’s a pretty typical winter storm.”

At the height of the storm, which occurred between 10 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday the area was seeing snow falling at 1 to 2 inches an hour, which caused visibility to become a quarter mile or less.

Dick Roberts, of Enfield, began plowing at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday and said it was one of the worst nights he can remember in terms of whiteouts.

“You can’t see anything going forward, and you can’t see anything going backward,” Roberts said yesterday around 11 a.m. when he stopped for gas at Jake’s Market & Deli in Lebanon.

Roberts spent Saturday evening plowing a mobile home park on Route 4A in Enfield. He worked through the night and didn’t break for breakfast until 6 a.m. because every time he looked back at his finished work, the ground was covered again.

Roberts has a strobe light atop his truck to help him use his 9-foot plow, but even with the light, he said he had a difficult time seeing where he was plowing.

The storm also caused Greyhound to cancel its bus service and Lebanon Airport canceled a few of its flights. As of 7 p.m. Saturday, Greyhound canceled all routes from Boston to Montreal, and routes didn’t start up again until about 8 a.m. Sunday. As of 1:30 p.m. Sunday, all buses were running, but many were delayed.

Autumn Polidor was supposed to catch a 1:10 p.m. bus to Burlington at the Greyhound station in Hartford on Sunday, but her bus was running 40 minutes late. Polidor, who is a medical student at the University of Vermont and was visiting her parents in Springfield, Vt., wasn’t brought down by the delay or the snow.

“I’m excited that it’s snowing,” Polidor said. “I think it’s really beautiful. It covers up all the ugliness that might be underneath.”

At Lebanon airport, Cape Air cancelled Sunday morning flights to Boston and White Plains, N.Y., but flights were running on schedule by the afternoon.

Few power outages were reported, and Robert Dostis, a spokesman with Green Mountain Power, said the low numbers were due to cold temperatures that caused the snow to be light and fluffy. Heavy snow is more likely to weigh down tree limbs and cause power outages. However, Bradford, Vt., saw 92 outages on Saturday because of a fallen tree, and Royalton saw 78 outages on Saturday, but those were restored by Sunday.

A handful of people were gliding along fresh powder with their cross country skis on Sunday at Hanover’s Garipay Fields. John Thorstensen, of Norwich, said the cross country skiers are at the mercy of the weather because fake snow isn’t made for most cross country ski areas the way it is made for downhill skiing.

“This is the snow we never got last winter,” Thorstensen said as he pulled a pair of blue skis out of the trunk of his car.

The sledding hill at the Hanover Country Club was also dotted with several dozen families sledding or snowboarding.

“I hate the hill, but I love going down it,” said 12-year-old Shira Hoffer, who sat eating snow after sledding to the bottom.

Shira visited the hill with her mother, Deb Hoffer, and Hoffer watched as Shira glided down the hill in a snow tube while balancing another young child on her lap.

Mount Sunapee ski area also got a fresh 13 inches of snow and a big skier turnout Sunday morning, said Marketing Director Bruce McCloy.

“Cars are pouring into the parking lot as I look out the window,” he said. “People are excited.”

As for the upcoming week, meteorologist Mike Kistner out of Gray, Maine, said there’s a lot of uncertainty about a potential snowstorm on Tuesday. High pressure is supposed to move in today, which could bring measurable snow to the area, Kistner said, but the amount of snow is uncertain. One model showed that New England could receive only a dusting to 2 inches, while another option showed several inches.

However, Kistner said he doesn’t currently expect anything comparable to this weekend’s storm, and later in the week, the Upper Valley could see highs above freezing, maybe even in the low 40s.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.