Northeast digs out from March snowstorm as ski areas revel

Winds whip through a downtown street as a pedestrian shovels a path for a snowed-in car during a snowstorm in Lewiston, Maine, Tuesday, March 14, 2017. A blustery late-season storm is hitting the Northeast, closing schools and prompting dire warnings to stay off the roads. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Northeast was in dig-out mode Wednesday, a day after a treacherous storm packing strong winds and accompanying plummeting temperatures left some residents dealing with rock-hard ice and others with more than 2 feet of snow. The upshot: a late-season boost to the region’s ski areas.

The powerful nor’easter that paralyzed much of the Washington-to-Boston corridor Tuesday fell short of the predicted snowfall in many areas, but the 29.9 inches of snow that fell by Wednesday afternoon at the Burlington International Airport in Vermont was the second-most on record, about 3 inches shy of the high established in January 2010.

“Yesterday it was too tough to drive out here, but today it was perfect,” said Lindsey Poirier, who was skiing at the Pats Peak ski area Wednesday in Henniker, New Hampshire. “The conditions are really good. The powder is awesome.”

Many schools in New England remain closed or had delayed openings Wednesday, giving crews time to dig out from the storm, which followed a stretch of unusually mild winter weather.

In Albany, New York, streets were largely cleared Wednesday morning of the almost 2 feet of snow that fell a day earlier. But many cars were still buried under thick blankets of snow.

Marisa Burgos spun her wheels in her snowy driveway in an attempt to go out and buy some gas for her snowblower.

“I was ready for spring. I really was,” Burgos said. “I want to enjoy the weather, but it’s just so hard to do that with all this snow.”

In Portland, Maine, most roads and sidewalks were cleared Wednesday, but firefighters were just getting to work digging out 1,500 hydrants. Fire Lt. Paul Marshall and two other firefighters were responsible for digging out 120 to 180 hydrants that were buried by snowplows.

“I’ll be a sweaty mess, but everyone’s in it together. Everyone’s in the same boat. So it builds a weird camaraderie,” Marshall said. “Everyone is miserable together. And we finish it together. And it’s a huge relief when it’s done.”

Most people heeded warnings to stay off the roads, preventing the multicar pileups typically seen after a bad storm, but there were still deaths. A 16-year-old girl was killed when she lost control of her car on a snowy road and crashed into a tree in Gilford, New Hampshire, police said. In East Hartford, Connecticut, an elderly man died after being struck by a snowplow truck. And, in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, a public works employee was killed after the snowplow he was driving was hit by an Amtrak plow train clearing tracks.

The largest snowfall reported in Vermont was 34 inches in the town of Jay, about 50 miles northeast of Burlington, along the Canadian border.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Eric Evenson said that as of midnight Tuesday, the Burlington airport had received 60.6 inches of snow, still 8.8 inches below normal for the season but well ahead of the same point last year when only 29.9 inches had fallen.

At the Mad River Glen ski area, in Waitsfield, Vermont, which has limited snowmaking, much of the resort has been closed over the last two weeks because of a lack of snow. The resort had been considering closing for the season after this weekend, but that was before Tuesday’s storm hit, spokesman Eric Friedman said Wednesday.

“What’s really remarkable is we went in 24 hours from bare ground to pushing 30 inches of snow,” Friedman said. “We went from crap to really epic.”

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Associated Press writers Mike Hill in Albany, New York; Holly Ramer in Henniker, New Hampshire; and David Sharp in Portland, Maine contributed to this report.