The Heat Is Online

Freak April Snowstorm Cuts Power for more than 100,000

Spring snowstorm hits the Northeast

The Boston Globe, April 5, 2003

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Two weeks into spring, a foot of snow fell on parts of the Northeast while freezing rain knocked out power and transformed trees into glittering, ice-encased sculptures.

The storm closed hundreds of schools and businesses across the region, and about 100,000 customers lost electricity, mainly along Lake Ontario, where an inch of ice accumulated. Suburban streets and gardens were littered with fallen limbs and snapped wiring.

''It's very unnerving. You don't know where the power lines or the trees are going to come down,'' said Debbie Reeves, 52, chipping ice off her driveway in the lakeside suburb of Webster.

''We should have our flowers up,'' she said. ''This is wrong.''

The storm fooled Clarke's Ace Hardware in New London, N.H. ''We changed our snow shovel display to lawn rakes,'' owner Read Clarke said.

Conditions worsened through the day, with freezing rain expected to continue well into today. Parts of northeastern New York could get as much as 16 inches of snow. Concord, N.H., had 6 inches by midmorning.

The hazardous wintry mix closed roads, prompted warnings against unnecessary travel, and was blamed for dozens of traffic accidents, including one in North Hudson in the Adirondack foothills that left a truck driver with a broken leg.

Power was cut off for about 100,000 New York customers, including 50,000 in the Rochester area, and ''we expect that is going to climb,'' said Dick Marion of Rochester Gas & Electric Corp.

It was the area's most severe ice storm in decades this far into the year, the National Weather Service said.

After an very snowy winter, Wendy Butler, 29, was in no mood for surprises.

''I'm a little tired of dealing with the same thing in April that I dealt with in October,'' she said after driving to Albany for an education conference.

A thunder-and-lightning show and snapping tree limbs woke up residents before dawn yesterday in communities along Lake Ontario. With the electricity out, some moved in with relatives or checked into hotels, while others lit fires.

Reeves said she's going to Las Vegas next week to get married. ''I can't wait to get out of here.''

This story ran on page A3 of the Boston Globe on 4/5/2003.
Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.