April nor’easter with heavy, wet snow pounds Northeast, knocks out power to hundreds of thousands

Apr 4, 2024, 7:48 AM | Updated: 7:06 pm

A major spring storm brought heavy snow, rain and high winds to the Northeast, downing trees and power lines and leaving nearly 700,000 homes and businesses without power at one point. A woman was killed by a falling tree in a New York City suburb and a second woman died in a New Hampshire fire caused by the weather.

Two feet of snow was expected in parts of northern New England by Thursday evening, with wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph (80 to 97 kph) in coastal areas and inland, according to the National Weather Service. Moderate to heavy snow was forecast to continue in the evening and into Friday in areas of higher terrain.

Maine and New Hampshire bore the brunt of the power outages, with about 310,000 and 125,000, respectively, as of Thursday night, according to poweroutage.us. Local officials said the heavy, wet snow was to blame for bringing down trees and power lines.

“This was pretty much a classic nor’easter,” said Stephen Baron, a meteorologist for the weather service in Gray, Maine. “This is definitely a high-end storm for April. It’s not crazy for us to get snow in April, but not usually getting double-digit amounts.”

The weather service said it was the biggest April nor’easter to hit the region since 2020.

“Still reporting snow and wind here at the office, with 17.4 inches (44.2 centimeters) of snow for the event thus far here in Gray,” the service posted in the evening on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Over a foot of snow fell in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where some residents who lost power checked in at the Wolfeboro Inn, general manager Shawn Black said.

“This is a lot of heavy, wet snow,” he said. “And the wind is out of the northeast, so it’s really not nice in a sense of temperature-wise, especially when the speed gets up to gusts of 55 mph. While I was out on the snowblower I could really feel my forehead just go numb.”

Jane Phillips, who was cross-country skiing in her neighborhood in Portland, Maine, was relishing the weather.

“It’s special to get snow in April and to be able to get out and enjoy it,” Phillips said. “It’s fun being a Mainer.”

Heavy snow made travel treacherous in northern New England and New York, and numerous vehicle crashes were reported.

One temporarily shut down Interstate 95 northbound near Lewiston, Maine, on Thursday morning. In Windham, Maine, near Portland, a vehicle lost control and struck a police cruiser, but no one was injured.

The storm brought mostly heavy rain to southern parts of the Northeast, as well as high winds.

Late Wednesday afternoon, a tree fell on a vehicle and killed a woman in the hamlet of Armonk in New York’s Westchester County, police said.

In New Hampshire, Derry Fire Chief Shawn Haggart said a woman died and a young woman was hospitalized after a morning house fire Thursday that was sparked by an explosion.

Haggart said the state Fire Marshal’s Office concluded that a tree fell on the house near external propane tanks at a time when strong winds were knocking down branches and power lines.

Dozens of flights in the region were canceled or delayed, and many schools and government offices were closed in northern areas.

“We recommend that you stay off the roads if you can, but if you must travel during the storm, be sure to give plow trucks, utility crews and emergency first responders plenty of room as they work to keep us safe,” Maine Gov. Janet Mills said.

Utilities in northern New England said they were prepared for the storm but power restoration could still be lengthy.

“Our crews are responding to widespread tree damage across our service area brought on by today’s long-duration Nor’easter,” Central Maine Power said on its website, adding that most of the damage was due to “more than a foot of heavy, wet snow and strong winds.”

The utility said more than 450 power line crews and 250 tree crews were assessing the damage and were prepared for a multi-day restoration effort.

Whipping winds and driving rain battered Boston, where staffers at the New England Aquarium did a sweep of the roof to make sure nothing could blow into the sea lion habitat, which is partially exposed. The storm caught some visitors off guard.

“I just saw the wind and the rain and I just bought this little poncho to protect myself,” said Claire Saussol, who grew up in France and was was visiting the city Wednesday. “I wasn’t prepared with the warm clothes. It’s worse than the north of France!”

Elsewhere, cleanup work continued in several states wracked by tornadoes and other severe weather blamed for at least three deaths this week. Tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia.

Killed were a homeless woman in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who was sheltering inside a drainage pipe during heavy rains; a woman in the Philadelphia suburb of Collegeville whose car was hit by a falling tree; and a person involved in a car accident in Kentucky.

In West Virginia, the National Weather Service on Thursday confirmed that two tornadoes with maximum winds of 130 mph (209 kph) and another with maximum winds of 110 mph (177 kph) hit in the southern part of the state Tuesday, damaging homes and businesses and snapping and uprooting trees. The weather service also issued a warning for major flooding through Sunday in some communities along the Ohio River. About 20,000 homes and businesses in the state remained without power as of Thursday night.


Associated Press writers Patrick Whittle and Holly Ramer in Boston, Karen Matthews in New York, John Raby in Charleston, West Virginia, Jackie Quinn in Washington, D.C., and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington, contributed to this report.

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April nor’easter with heavy, wet snow pounds Northeast, knocks out power to hundreds of thousands