What began as a run-of-the-mill November rainstorm took a wintry turn overnight, blanketing parts of northern New England with over half a foot of dense, heavy snow. The early season snowfall brought down trees and power lines across the region, leaving tens of thousands without electricity amidst slick roads and bone-chilling temperatures.
In Vermont, where snowfall accumulations topped six inches in many areas, a tanker truck carrying 10,000 gallons of propane crashed and erupted in flames as the driver lost control on a snow-covered stretch of Route 14 in Irasburg.
The intense fire fueled by the escaping gas could be seen from miles away, prompting state police to order evacuations of surrounding homes and a pair of local schools as a precaution. Given fears of a potential explosion, a 1-mile perimeter was established around the scene.
Firefighters opted to let the blaze burn itself out after drone reconnaissance revealed the tank had been punctured in the crash, reducing the risk of a massive detonation. Meanwhile, emergency crews hurried to contain the runoff to prevent contamination of the Black River as propane turned to gas and dissipated.
Fortunately, the driver escaped unscathed, but the crash snarled traffic across the area for hours.
The wintry weather is also blamed for several other accidents across the region, including spin-outs and collisions in northern New Hampshire and Maine. Snow-covered roads and blowing snow reduced visibility and made travel treacherous from the higher elevations toward the coast. One multi-vehicle crash temporarily closed Interstate 93 near Lincoln, N.H.
On Monday morning, power outages peaked at more than 60,000 households across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, concentrated in the areas hardest hit by snow. Falling trees and weighted-down branches snapped power lines and toppled utility poles in several towns.
Repair crews have been working for hours to de-energize downed lines and reroute supply through back feeds, but warn that some in remote areas may remain without electricity for days as repairs continue. Shelters have opened to provide warmth and bottled water for those without heat.
The early season snowfall comes just weeks after a record-dry October across New England. The whiplash from connective tropical moisture to a full-on winter storm demonstrates how variable autumn weather can be in the northeast. Forecasters expect the storm to fully pull away later Monday, but temperatures are not expected to rebound substantially before another system arrives by midweek, portending more snow or a wintry mix across interior areas.