Snowpocalypse Not: Upper Valley Dodges Brunt of Monster Winter Storm

Sunday, February 10, 2013
Hanover — The winter storm that walloped much of the northeastern United States largely spared the Upper Valley, whose residents saw the snowfall as business as usual.

“It’s not 3 feet of snow,” said Nichole Hastings, who was sculpting a pair of hiking boots out of packed snow. “It’s not even a foot of snow. I’m just happy that it looks like the proper season.”

At any rate, it was enough powder for construction. Hastings, of Norwich, was one of several builders yesterday at Occom Pond, sawing and chiseling at large mounds of snow. It was also enough powder to get several trucks driving up and down the pond, plows affixed, clearing the snow from the iced-over body of water.

Snowfall in Lebanon reached 16 inches, according to National Weather Service meteorologists. Orford, by contrast, received only 6 inches. On the Vermont side of the Upper Valley, snowfall ranged from 8 inches in Wilder to 15 inches in Thetford Center.

And in Hanover, there was plenty of snow to play with. The sculpting and plowing yesterday was in preparation of the annual Occom Pond Party, which will take place at the pond today, from noon to 3 p.m. The theme of this year’s party, like the Dartmouth Winter Carnival — the two events are spiritually connected, if not directly so — is “A Grimm Carnival,” based on the famous fairy tales.

So Hastings’ boots were symbolic of both The Boots of Buffalo-Leather, one of the tales, and the group she was representing: the Hanover Area Friends of the Appalachian Trail.

Next to her was a group from the Army’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, which has been putting together snow sculptures since 1987. By yesterday afternoon, Rapunzel’s tower stretched nearly a dozen feet skyward, its base chiseled to look like brickwork, a bust of the princess’ head sticking out of a snowy window, icicle hair braids reaching around the tower.

“It’s our business,” said Randy Hill, part of the CRREL team. “Cold.”

Rapunzel’s hair was the result of an engineering trick: Freezing water inside long balloons that could be manipulated so the resulting icicles come out long and flowing. Later, Hill would stand atop a ladder to place a long, vertical icicle — a spire — atop the tower.

“He is unquestionably the best snow-sculpture maker in town,” said Bill Young, who has organized the party for all of its 15 years, standing next to a large ice castle, another mainstay. But Hill himself was more modest.

“It’s not about the competition,” he said, standing in front of a gaggle of chisels, hand saws and water balloons. “It’s about coming out and playing.”

Soon after, a couple walked past the tower, which was nearing completion. Eileen Margherio took a photo.

Margherio and her husband, John, were visitors to the Upper Valley, walking around Hanover yesterday before attending their daughter’s swim meet — she’s on the college’s team — today.

They’re from New Canaan, Conn., which they said received nearly two feet of snow from the storm.

“It’s small, relative to what we expected,” Eileen Margherio said of the Upper Valley’s snow total.

Was the storm overhyped, then?

“Yes,” John Margherio replied.

Though the Upper Valley wasn’t bludgeoned by snow, the same can’t be said for regions closer to the coast. According to Margaret Curtis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland, Maine, Seabrook, N.H., was hit with nearly 30 inches.

Curtis said the White Mountains help the Connecticut River Valley during coastal storms, blocking much of the snow and wind that throttles coastal areas. The flip side, though, is that storms coming from the north usually do more damage.

More than 30 inches of snow were reported in parts of both Maine and Long Island, N.Y. Parts of Connecticut endured more than three feet.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick ordered all vehicles in the commonwealth off the road prior to the storm. The city of Boston received nearly 22 inches.

After closing on Friday, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York brought in its first inbound flight at 9:30 a.m. yesterday. As of yesterday afternoon, Boston’s Logan International Airport was planning on opening one runway by 11 p.m.

During the course of the storm, about 650,000 New England residents were left without power.

But at Hanover Hardware, it was business as usual — literally — as employees hadn’t seen any notable change in sales yesterday as a result of the storm.

“I don’t think it stopped anyone from coming out,” said Sonya Campbell, the store’s owner.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Jon Wolper can be reached at or 603-727-3248.

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