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News from everywhere *but* Central New Hampshire.

Finally, a Little Winter

Snow piles up at the intesection of Nichols & Nichols in Peterborough
Snow piles up at the intesection of Nichols & Nichols in Peterborough

In case you forgot what a New England winter is supposed to be like, Mother Nature decided to drop in with a reminder. Snow impacts everything from checkbooks to yardwork in New Hampshire, but has gone missing for most of this winter. 

While I was busy shoveling my car out, a neighbor of mine was tackling a completely different winter chore.

"In order for you to burn in Jaffrey without a permit, you need to have three inches of snow," said Steve Howe. "So I’ve been waiting for some snow to clean up the yard a little bit with everything that’s come down with the wind, and the debris."

I finished shoveling. Steve kept burning. And the rest of southern New Hampshire dealt with our first significant storm of 2012.

In some respects, this has been a very, very strange winter.

"We’re way the hell below normal," said Jim Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Since December 1st, New Hampshire is 31-inches below our snowfall average.

But remember that big Halloween storm? If you include that fun, and this week’s storm, the state is actually right about where we should be for this time of year.

The bizarre snowfall pattern has impacted the economy in some unusual ways.

While the State reports that the rooms and meals tax is generating slightly more revenue than was predicted for this winter, some businesses have lost out on money.

Up in the North Country, Karen Tolin runs Mighty Paw Sled Dog Kennel. The Jefferson-based non-profit takes in rescue sled dogs and offers guided trips with experienced mushers.

"I think as a seasonal or winter-based business, you’re biggest fear is always: what would happen if it didn’t snow? And then you kind of laugh to yourself and say, 'Well, it would never not snow.' Well, this winter, it didn’t snow. So we’ve had to be really creative."

For example,  during those lean months, Muddy Paws attached studded tires to the sleds so that they could run on grass.

The southern half of New Hampshire may not be home to as many of the state’s ski mountains or winter resorts, but the economics of snow still matters to residents like Peterborough’s Quinn Kelley.

"It is pretty good for me, cause it is helping me a to earn a good week’s allowance, I think of at least $2.00. It could be a little bit more. It could be at $2.50, maybe $3.00."

So, Quinn has probably made less cash than usual, and plow-guys have sat idle for much of the season.

But the Department of Transportation? They’re thrilled that there hasn’t been much snow at all during the last 12 weeks. 

"Salt use is at an almost a 30-year low," said Bill Boynton, spokesman for the DOT. "We haven’t had the wear-and-tear on our equipment that we normally have. So from that perspective, it has been a good winter." 

It maybe a little too early to tell just how much salt the State will use this year.

Jaffrey resident Philip LaBrie has seen 77 winters come and go in New Hampshire.

He offers this extended winter forecast.

"You always get this wet stuff. Always in March. Never give up on getting snow, cause you can get snow in March. You’re gonna get it, its heavy, its wet. But you can cope with it. Most of the time people do." 

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University. He can be reached at tbookman@nhpr.org.
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