SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The Nation

March 8, 2011

Late-winter wallop shocks New England, upstate NY

BOSTON — A powerful storm stunned New England and northern New York with a late-winter wallop, burying parts of the region in more than 2 feet of snow, hampering efforts to reach a small plane that crashed after the pilot reported icing problems and dropping rain that swelled rivers and swept away houses.

The winter blast also stopped commuters in their tracks on ice-covered highways.

Maine officials said the plane, a four-seat Diamond DA-40, went down near the Canadian border Monday afternoon, killing one person and injuring another. State wardens had to use snowmobiles to respond to the area, where most of the logging roads hadn't been plowed, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Public Safety Department. A Canadian search and rescue helicopter reached the site Monday night and airlifted the injured person to a hospital in Canada.

The storm pushed the seasonal snow total in notoriously wintry Buffalo, N.Y., an inch past 100. Burlington, Vt., registered its biggest March snowfall on record, at 25.8 inches as of Monday night. In southern New England, flooding closed roads and cut off neighborhoods as rain melted snow or fell on frozen ground with no place to drain but overtaxed rivers.

A mudslide in Greenfield, Mass., forced at least two families from their homes and buried cars, the Republican newspaper reported. In Newport, N.H., an adult and three children had to be rescued by boat when the Sugar River surrounded their home. The Housatonic River near Oxford, Conn., swept parts of two homes and two cars away, authorities said.

The storm's severity shocked even the hardiest stock in New England, where in a nod to the inevitable coming of spring after one of the harshest winters in recent memory, stores had put grass seed on display. Instead, as the second week of March began, businesses closed and residents hunkered down yet again.

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