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Patrick: Could Take Days To Restore Power

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The snow hit early and hard in Gardner. (Photo from Claude)

The snow hit early and hard in Gardner. (Photo from Claude)

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — The season’s first snow came early and came with fury. Just after dawn on Sunday, Massachusetts state officials were reporting more than 650,000 power outages across the state.

Here’s the latest numbers among the largest power companies as of 7 p.m.:

  • National Grid: 415,632 in Mass., 13,537 in N.H.
  • PSNH: 232,091 in N.H.
  • Unitil: 17,050 in Mass., 27,388 in N.H.
  • NStar: 96,830 in Mass.
  • WMECO: 130,441 in Western Mass.

In a news conference on Sunday, Gov. Deval Patrick said it could be days before all homes and businesses get their power back.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Kim Tunnicliffe reports:

patrickagawam Patrick: Could Take Days To Restore Power

(Photo credit: Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio 1030)

“We’ve had a remarkable number of downed limbs, and as a result, downed power lines. It will take multiple days to restore power because of the nature of those outages,” said Gov. Patrick.

Gov. Patrick urged people to stay off the roads for their own safety and to all crews to do their job.

“We have called up the National Guard to help with tree removal crews so that we can clear the roads and get access to the wires to make repairs,” said Gov. Patrick.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Kim Tunnicliffe reports about the outages in New Hampshire:

State police reported numerous accidents on icy roads, though the speed limit was back to normal Sunday morning after being lowered to 40 mph Saturday. Logan Airport, which did not get as much snow as the rest of the state, handled a number of flights diverted from other East Coast cities.

Check: Current Conditions | Interactive Radar | Maps | Weather Blog | Storm Photos

The snow arrived in Massachusetts Saturday afternoon, and piled more than 20 inches in parts of western Massachusetts. Areas in metro Boston received anywhere from several inches to more than a foot of heavy, wet snow.

Gov. Patrick declared a State of Emergency as conditions worsened Saturday evening.

The state’s emergency management center was activated Saturday night. MEMA was also sending out updates through Twitter and Facebook.

At least one death was blamed on the storm, a 20-year-old Springfield man electrocuted when he stepped on a downed wire. The man, who was not identified, stopped when he saw police and firefighters examining downed wires and stepped in the wrong place, police Capt. William Collins said.

The combination of high winds; the leaves still on trees; and heavy, wet snow were contributing to the widespread power outages. In many cases, as soon as power was restored, it was knocked back out by another tree or limb pulling down utility lines.

The WBZ-TV Weather team predicted power outages could approach the levels from the ice storm of 2008. Utility companies had prepared for that possibility.

“The key issue is that there are still a substantial number of leaves on all the trees locally. Leaves fall off in the winter for a reason, and the extra surface area will allow even more snow to stick to limbs,” Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O’Meara said. “All of that extra weight has the potential to cause healthy, normally non-threatening trees to fail, leading to additional outages.”

The mayor had urged Occupy Boston protesters in Dewey Square to go home during the storm because their tents could be dangerous in the expected high winds.

Logan Airport was also ready for the storm, doing all it can to prevent as many delays and cancellations as possible.

The airport is encouraging travelers to check with their airline for flight updates.

The weather is expected to turn more seasonable this week, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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