CONCORD, N. H. – New Hampshire officials urged residents to get off the roads by 7 p.m. Friday and remain at their destinations until the storm tapers off on Saturday afternoon, but they did not issue an outright ban on driving as Massachusetts did.
“I think it’s really important that we make sure we do what we always do in the Granite State, which is use our judgment and make sure people have the opportunity to get where they need to be,’’ said Governor Maggie Hassan, speaking at a press conference at the state Incident Planning and Operations Center here this afternoon.
Colonel Robert L. Quinn of the State Police urged drivers to use common sense to be safe.
“It’s quite simple – drive slow, don’t follow too close, give yourself enough time and stay focused,’’ he said.
Parts of New Hampshire could get two feet of snow or more, with the heaviest coming this evening and overnight.
But as a light snow fell outside Friday afternoon, James C. Van Dongen, a spokesman for the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said a Massachusetts-style ban on driving did not seem necessary. During Hurricane Sandy, he said, State Police found that most residents kept off the roads as advised by then-Governor John Lynch.
Hassan asked state agencies and other employers to let employees leave work early if necessary, and she asked people to drive home slowly and carefully.
Because cold temperatures make it unlikely the snow will be heavy and wet, Hassan said New Hampshire authorities are not anticipating widespread power outages, but she asked residents to be prepared to lose power just in case.
Emergency officials are closely monitoring the Seacoast, which is expected to bear the brunt of the storm and could experience high winds, dangerous waves and coastal flooding. The state closed its beaches Friday morning.
New Hampshire had 310 state plow trucks working on the roads Friday afternoon, plus another 437 hired trucks at the ready, said Christopher Clement, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation.
The state is not likely to run out of road salt anytime soon, either; it has 128,000 tons of road salt on hand, and a major blizzard typically requires 5,000 to 7,000 tons. Clement said that the state also has 93 fuel stations positioned around the state to make sure the trucks have the fuel they need if gas stations close.
Hassan has not declared a state of emergency – Van Dongen said New Hampshire has more flexibility than Massachusetts to run emergency operations without a special declaration – but the governor said officials are monitoring needs as they arise.
Nearly all flights in and out of Manchester-Boston Regional Airport were canceled as of 4 p.m. Friday. The University of New Hampshire in Durham curtailed operations. State liquor stores were scheduled to close by 6 p.m. Friday.