2 feet of snow surprise Northeast

MONTPELIER, Vt. —A rare late-season snowstorm dumped up to 2 feet of heavy, wet snow on northern New York and northern New England on Wednesday, giving school children an unexpected day off and forcing others to seek refuge from homes darkened by downed power lines.

The National Weather Service reported that more than 20 inches of snow fell on the western slopes of Vermont's Green Mountains northeast of Burlington. In the mountain town of Jericho, some residents visited the local library to stay warm and browse the Internet.

"It's been constant pretty much since we opened our doors. Parents are definitely looking for someplace warm to bring their kids," said Holly Hall, director of the Deborah Rawson Memorial Library. And it's not just parents. "Every available outlet we have is in use right now. There are more laptop users than usual."

Large storms so late in the season are rare. On April 23, 1993, 22 inches of snow was reported in Malone, N.Y., and on April 27, 1874, 24 inches of snow was reported in Bellows Falls, Vt., said Mark Breen, the senior meteorologist at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St. Johnsbury.

"You really do have to stretch to find events like this," Breen said.

At the peak of the storm Wednesday morning, about 30,000 customers were without power across Vermont, New Hampshire and northern New York. It could be today before power is fully restored.

"It definitely caught people off guard, considering we had 80 degrees back in March. It's a problem because some people swapped their (snow) tires out already," said Vermont highway dispatcher Greg Fox.

By midday, the storm was drifting off the coast and the snow was turning to rain. Temperatures are expected to hit 50 today and reach the 70s by the weekend, heralding a quick return to spring weather.