, Salem, MA

The Nation

March 8, 2011

Late-winter wallop shocks New England, upstate NY



Amy Newman laughed about her disrupted routine as she struggled down Main Street in Montpelier, Vt., pushing a three-wheeled stroller and carrying her 3-year-old son, Wakeland.

"We tried going to the library, but it was closed," she said. "Then we tried (popular local bakery) La Brioche, but it was closed, too."

To the south, the weather was no laughing matter.

In Connecticut, flood warnings were issued for the Housatonic, Farmington, Still and Naugatuck rivers. About a dozen homes were evacuated in Danbury, and water was reported up to the first floors of homes in one neighborhood. Authorities considered evacuating an apartment complex for the elderly as water encroached.

Kent authorities reported that about 40 families in one area were cut off from main roads and their homes were being evacuated. In Southbury, officials reported more than two dozen evacuations, several homes underwater and a few mudslides. A mobile home reportedly was washed away after it was evacuated.

Officials in Plainville, Canton and Watertown asked state officials for hundreds of sandbags.

Parts of upstate New York were buried under more than 2 feet of heavy snow, combined with freezing rain, sleet and 30 mph winds. Schools closed and thousands of customers lost power. Part of Interstate 81 near Syracuse, N.Y., closed when tractor-trailers jackknifed on an icy uphill stretch.

The storm dropped 27 inches of snow on Westport, across Lake Champlain from Vermont, and Saranac Lake topped out at 29 inches, the National Weather Service said. More than 50,000 power outages were reported at the storm's peak, most of them around Albany, N.Y.

A utility crew repairing downed power lines in the southern Vermont town of Baltimore was forced to leave because more ice-laden trees were coming down around them.

Even forecasters were caught off guard after most had called for about a foot of snow.

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