Heavy Snow, Wind And Thunderclaps Slam New England

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Cleaners At Boston City Hall During Snowfall (Getty)

BOSTON (CBSNews) —  A powerful  nor’easter rumbled across northern New England Thursday (Dec. 29) bringing a possible 20 inches of snow and all manner of nasty weather including heavy snow, sheets of rain, damaging winds and possibly thunderclaps.

The storm is projected to be the most powerful in the region in nearly two years. It’s slated to last through Friday, with much of the harshest weather coming in the evening and overnight.

Officials in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont warned residents to stay off the roads in the evening and prepare for potential power outages.

National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Pohl says accumulations of a foot or more are expected inland but that a changeover to rain will reduce snowfall totals near the coast.

“We’re Mainers and we should be used to it but it’s that first storm of the year. People should take their time, plan ahead and have an emergency kit.

Just take it easy out there,” said Susan Faloon, spokeswoman for the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

Snow hampered commutes in portions of Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well, though only a few inches were predicted to fall in each state.

In New Hampshire, officials urged people not to drive after 6 p.m. Safety officials said 80 cars had crashed or gone off the road in the state since Thursday morning but that no serious injuries had been reported as of the late afternoon.

Most of the crashes occurred in central New Hampshire.

The barometric pressure reading is projected to be close to that of a crippling storm on Valentine’s Day 2014 that canceled flights, knocked out power for thousands and claimed more than two dozen lives in the Northeast.

The Vermont Health Department reminded people that overexertion from shoveling snow can lead to heart attacks and to keep heat vents clear of ice and snow.

Ski areas, meanwhile, cheered the dump of snow. Mount Snow in Vermont said it has received more snow so far this year than it did in all of last season. Loon Mountain in New Hampshire has 51 trails open compared to just 17 at this time last winter.

At Pats Peak in Henniker, New Hampshire, families were taking advantage of the snow day during school vacation week, CBS Boston reports.

“It’s beautiful, it’s soft, the weather is decent, the kids are out of school it’s perfect timing,” said Mindy Maxwell Tsiopras.

This new dose of natural snow is now combined with the man-made snow. The end result a good base for the coming weekend.

“Today with the actual natural snow falling, we’re looking forward to a great weekend with some natural snow powder day,” said Lori Rowell of Pats Peak. “Almost all our trails are open so there’s lots of options to enjoy.”

On New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, officials say there is “considerable danger” of an avalanche due to the storm.