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More snow, rain and coastal flooding expected this weekend in NH

Coastal flooding prompted several closures Wednesday morning along Route 1A. Some seawalls were damaged by the high surf, as large waves pushed rocks and debris – including a lobster trap or two – across the roadway in Hampton, Rye and North Hampton
Dan Tuohy
/
NHPR
Coastal flooding prompted several closures Wednesday morning along Route 1A. Some seawalls were damaged by the high surf, as large waves pushed rocks and debris – including a lobster trap or two – across the roadway in Hampton, Rye and North Hampton.

Flood warnings are in effect for Saturday along New Hampshire’s coast as a third storm in just over a week brings more snow, rain and wind to the state.

A winter weather advisory is also in effect for the northern and western parts of the state, and a flood warning is in effect for the Suncook river at North Chichester.

Up to three feet of flooding is expected in low lying areas along the Seacoast. Local officials say they’re staffing up and making plans to respond.

Mark Cotreau is chief of the Rye Fire Department. He says the major threat will be high tide, which is expected around noon on Saturday.

Wednesday’s storm damaged seawalls and undermined sidewalks and roads, he said, complicating preparations for potential flooding this weekend.

“It wasn't, you know, unprecedented by any means, but it was more than we usually see. And it's just because they're so back to back, you know, preparing and reinforcing the damage that was done, so that it can withstand the high tide again.”

Cotreau says people should expect roads to be closed along the Seacoast on Saturday during high tide. He cautioned residents to stay away from the coast and never drive through floodwater.

“That's not just water you're driving through. That's water and rocks and boulders,” he said. “The public should be very careful about where they drive.”

In Hampton, town officials said they’re also asking people to stay away from the coast during high tide.

“We do not want people coming onto Hampton beach during that time,” said Michael McMahon, Hampton’s fire chief. “We don’t want people to get down there and get stuck. It can be dangerous for people if you have rocks coming over the sea walls. It's terrible for vehicles to drive in seawater. I don't know why folks would do it.”

McMahon says the town is advising those who live in places prone to flooding to leave their homes for the high tide cycle, though in most cases people will be fine if they stay in their homes. Shelter is available at the Hampton Academy Junior High for those who don’t feel comfortable at home.

Having two storms back-to-back has been difficult for responders, McMahon said.

“It’s not normal, and it’s a lot of work,” he said. “I think we’re going to be better prepared tomorrow than we were the day before yesterday.”

Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.