Unseasonable Nor’easter Brings Scary, Snowy Halloween to Northeast U.S.

Written by Lisa Hayden on . Posted in Extreme weather, Learn

Oh, the weather outside is frightful … oops, wrong holiday!

But you’ll excuse my confusion. Instead of tramping through rustling leaves, little ghouls and goblins from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts will be trudging through crunchy snow tonight on their trick-or-treat rounds. With school canceled in many towns, they’ve certainly had more time to work on their costumes. That is, if parents and officials deem it safe enough for them to venture out amid downed trees and power lines.

It’s kind of like the ghost of Christmas past showed up for Halloween this year, sweeping up the coast on the winds of a weekend Nor’easter leaving anywhere from a dusting to 27 inches of snow on Jack o’lanterns across the region.

At my house on a tree-lined rural route in central Massachusetts, the power flicked out Saturday afternoon soon after thick, pasty flakes began falling fast. With lots of leaves still on the trees, the heavy snow weighed down limbs, and we could hear the snapping and cracking of branches through the night. The roads were already treacherous on a quick trek downtown for hot pizza from a place still open. When we drove back down the snow-covered driveway, the roof of the car brushed the maple limbs, hanging low like white stalactites.

In the morning, we found a large limb had landed on the back deck, less than a foot from windows. Numerous boughs were hanging on power lines up and down the street. With dim prospects for our power to come back anytime soon, we fled south to stay with relatives in Connecticut, who happen to live in one of the few pockets where electricity was restored.

States of emergency were declared in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts, where in western sections about two feet of snow fell. Some 750,000 residents remain without power in Connecticut, and much like the aftermath of the storms at the end of summer, officials say it may take days or a week to get power back in some rural communities.

It’s been quite a year 2011 in weather, not just globally, but right here in my neighborhood.

From threatened roof collapses under heavy snow in February and spring basement floods in March to the June 1 tornado that left a 39-mile tree-less scar from Springfield to Southbridge visible by satellite, the remarkable weather continued. In late August, Hurricane Irene blew up the East Coast, followed by tropical storm Lee, and now Halloween Nor’easter Alfred.

My family is grateful we avoided major damage to our house and property in each of those events. We were luckier than many.

After the tornado swept past our area, our local living-history museum launched a “Ready for Anything” fundraising campaign – a kind of rainy day fund that will help them to plan ahead and be prepared for unforeseen, but inevitable expenses in the future. They are working to be prepared for whatever nature – or man, for that matter – throws at them. You know, this sounds like a good plan to me!

Lisa Hayden is a blogger and feature writer for The Nature Conservancy

Photo by: Flickr user Professor Bop (With a half a foot of snow on the ground two days before Halloween, this pumpkin-headed snow man appeared) Used under a Creative Commons license.

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