(Todd McInturf ~ The Detroit News)
DETROIT -- A fast-moving New Year's Day storm dumped more than a foot of snow on southeastern Michigan, a record blast that made driving hazardous, snarled the flight home for holiday travelers and threatened to do the same in New England.
Thousands of people in Michigan and Ohio lost power. Authorities reported no deaths or serious injuries from the six-hour burst of snow in Michigan that started around midnight, but they said there were many spinouts and minor accidents.
The storm left 10 to 16 inches of snow across parts of Oakland, Lapeer and St. Clair counties north of Detroit, the National Weather Service said. The western St. Clair County community of Capac reported 16 inches.
"This storm most definitely packed quite a wallop," said Weather Service meteorologist David Shuler in Oakland County. "This will be a memorable storm for the amount of snow it dumped in such a short amount of time."
He said it was the region's heaviest New Year's Day snowstorm on record and was unusual for its intensity. In the heart of the storm, snow fell at a rate of at least 2 inches an hour, with periods of 4 inches an hour.
Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, one of the nation's busiest, canceled about 150 flights Tuesday and reported delays of around 45 minutes because of blowing snow. Passengers also experienced morning delays at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, but operations were back to normal by the afternoon, spokesman Michael Conway said.
Utility officials reported scattered power failures affecting more than 36,000 homes and businesses at one time or another.
The storm also blacked out 10,000 customers in northeast Ohio, mainly in areas east of Cleveland, said Chris Eck, a spokesman for FirstEnergy Corp. Wind gusted to 51 mph at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport, the Weather Service said.
FirstEnergy repair crews had difficulty keeping up with the storm, Eck said. "As they're getting lights on, lights are going off. They're just fighting it as it happens," he said.
Farther east, the weather system spread snow across upstate New York and northern New England, where it was expected to last into Wednesday and drop as much as a foot of snow on parts of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
That followed a storm in the Northeast on Monday that made it the snowiest December in the region in decades. December's snowfall at Concord, N.H., totaled 44.5 inches, toppling a record of 43 inches that had stood since 1876. Burlington, Vt., got 45.7 inches, far above its 17.2-inch December average, and Portland, Maine, amassed 37.7 inches for its third-snowiest December on record.
New Hampshire has already spent $30 million on snow removal out of the $75 million budgeted for the entire winter, said highway department spokesman Bill Boynton.
However, New England ski resorts enjoyed the flurry of storms after last year's lack of snow early in the season.
In Maine, it provided a fresh layer on top of the roughly 6 feet that the state's two biggest ski resorts, Sugarloaf USA and Sunday River, each got last month.
"It's been unbelievable," Sugarloaf spokesman Bill Swain said. "It just keeps coming."