CONWAY — Snow lovers got an unexpected bonus on Thursday, as more than twice the amount of snow forecast for the Mount Washington Valley fell on the area.
The storm, which lasted roughly eight hours from 4 a.m.-noon, led to the cancellation of school in Conway for the first time this school year, while students in SAU 13 had their first Blizzard Bag Day.
There were reports of vehicles off the road in Bartlett and Conway, but fortunately, no serious accidents, during what was called a “slow morning commute” by a number of motorists.
Local National Weather Service Observer Ed Bergeron recorded 7.5 inches of new snow at his North Conway home, making this the second-largest storm of the 2019-20 winter. Bergeron measured 11 inches of snow on his snowboard, his official measuring stick, on Dec. 30.
“We got more snow than was predicted,” Bergeron said by phone Thursday afternoon.
The area had been looking at 2-4 inches of snow according to AccuWeather and Weather Underground.
Bergeron said he measured 2.5 inches of snow at 7 a.m., and the snow kept falling for the next five hours.
School superintendents Kevin Richard for SAU 9, Ray Robinson for MSAD 72 and Meredith Nadeau for SAU 13, all made the decision to call off classes for the day.
“These storms lately have been becoming bigger than expected,” Richard said. “As much as I like to get days in, it was bit greasy this morning and (the town road agents) thought it was a good call (to cancel classes).”
Richard said there wasn’t much snow at 4:30 a.m. when he initially checked on the weather, but after getting reports from road agents initially called for a two-hour delay, but conditions continued to deteriorate.
“I was driving to work at 6:45 a.m., and usually if you’re going to make the call (to cancel school), you do it by 7 a.m.,” he said. “It was a little bit greasy on the roads.”
He added: “At 6 a.m., we had maybe an inch. Who knew we’d get around 9 inches in some spots?”
Robinson agreed with the call to cancel classes. “Given that it started snowing fairly heavily before the buses hit the roads as well as the fact that it was projected to snow through a late start commute, it made sense to cancel,” he said. “Neither buses nor car traffic would have been safe traveling given the volume of snow.”
SAU 9 covers Albany, Bartlett, Chatham, Conway, Eaton, Hart’s Location and Jackson. SAU 13 covers Freedom, Madison and Tamworth. MSAD 72 covers Molly Ockett Middle School, Brownfield-Denmark Elementary School and New Suncook Elementary School in Lovell. Nadeau said SAU 13’s Freedom Elementary, Madison Elementary and the K.A. Brett School in Tamworth declared it a Blizzard Bag Day, where students complete pre-made lessons that are distributed in advance.
Jackson Grammar School in Jackson also uses Blizzard Bag days, but Richard said the school chose not to make it one on Tuesday.
The cancellation of school was welcomed by a host of students. Jon Hebert of Conway, shared the following on Facebook about letting his freshman son know the news.
“The sounds of cheering drift down from the third floor after I sent him this text ... ‘Joe it is with great sadness that I report to you that school has been canceled for today,’” he wrote.
The storm also meant the postponement of Freedom and Tamworth school board meetings which had been scheduled for Tuesday. Freedom rescheduled its meeting for Jan. 27, while the Tamworth moved its meeting to Friday. Bergeron said this storm brings the winter total to 41 inches and 17.4 inches for January so far, just 0.4 inches behind the 30-year average. The 30-year average snowfall for December is 17.6 inches; January, 17.8 inches; February, 23.3 inches; and March, 14.6 inches. Snowfall last year totaled 105.5 inches for the 2018-19 winter, including 4 inches on April 7. In comparison, the 30-year average was 85 inches.
Other storm totals from around the Granite State, reported on WMUR (Channel 9), included: 6.8 inches in Sandwich; 5.5 inches in Plymouth; 5 inches in Tilton; 3.7 in Danbury and 2 inches in Auburn.
The snow was a welcome sight for alpine and Nordic centers.
“Thank Ullr,” the Wildcat Ski Area Snow Report posted Thursday. “Looks like your snow dances are working, so keep it up! Mother Nature coated us with 2 inches of new snow last night, and it’s still coming down fast. Think of this as a little pre-game for the weekend because we’re looking at a very snowy forecast. “With MLK Weekend and even more snow right around the corner, this snow could not come at a better time. Take a second to praise (the Norse snow god) Ullr over this perfect powder day, and I’ll see you on the slopes.”
There is more snow in the forecast for the weekend but before that arrives, it’s going to be cold on Friday. “Temperatures will struggle to reach the upper teens during the afternoon. Wind chills will be brutal, with values between minus 10 and minus 25 below,” WMUR Meteorologist Eric Weglarz said Thursday.
AccuWeather’s “Snowfall Amount Probability” from 4 p.m. Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday is 4-8 inches, although it lists a 28 percent chance of 8-12 inches and a 19 percent chance of above 12 inches.