Winter storm smacks RI

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island has begun to dig out of the first major storm of the season, which brought more than 12 inches of snow to some areas of the state since the storm began yesterday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Neil Strauss says the intensity of the snow will taper off Monday afternoon but winds up to 45 miles per hour will continue.

"So we will notice an improvement in conditions with just a little maybe light snow showers or flurries into the afternoon hours," Strauss says.

A blizzard warning is in effect in Rhode Island until noon. Strauss says last night's snow fall was heavy and wet, and residents should be cautious when trying to dig out. Today's high is forecast in the upper 20s.

Road Conditions
State officials are asking residents across Rhode Island to avoid driving this morning unless absolutely necessary. Governor Don Carcieri's spokeswoman Amy Kempe says some major corporations already have the day off following the weekend holiday but other business owners are being urged to use discretion.

"Use common sense," Kempe says. "If it's snowing and you have employees that have to drive to get there, then perhaps a delayed opening is the best way to go."

State police say they've already responded to several snow-related car accidents. Authorities say in one rollover in Exeter, a woman was taken to Kent Hospital to be treated for neck and back pain. Another rollover yesterday night resulted in no injuries.

State police say a RIPTA bus turned over Monday morning on northbound I-95 near exit 12, the bus was empty at the time.

Rhode Island Emergency Management says most major roads across the state are open and clear. Emergency Management says wind gusts of 80 mph closed down the Newport Bridge during Sunday night, but the bridge was reopened Monday.

Mark Perigino spent most of Sunday clearing roads for the City of Providence, he says crews were pre-treating roads early Sunday morning.

Train Service
Amtrak trains are rolling again between Boston and New York. Amtrak says it's running fewer trains due to the holiday, but those scheduled to run are running.

There are delays in the New York City area and some trains have been cancelled between New York and Washington DC. Amtrak says it is still working on a schedule for the Tuesday commute.

Power Outages
About 650 homes are without power across Rhode Island following Monday's snow storm.

National Grid says South Kingstown, Aquidneck Island and Jamestown were most affected by the storm with more than a hundred outages in each community.

National Grid Spokesman David Graves says the high winds caused the most problems during the storm, causing trees to fall and knock down power lines.

The number of residents without power peaked at 2,300 Sunday night. National Grid has been working nonstop to restore electricity to affected areas.

"We have crews that have been working through the night, additional crew that went out at dawn this morning, and we're hoping that as the winds die down we're gonna be able to get everybody restored today," he says.

Graves says there's still a possibility of more outages if the winds continue to pick up. He says Rhode Islanders should stay away from downed power lines and call National Grid if they lose power.

Play for kids
The heavy snow storm may have brought power outages, canceled flights, and snarled traffic, but for most kids in Rhode Island it meant only one thing- time to play.

Moses Brown School was the place to be for kids on the east side of Providence. About 40 children and their parents brought sleds and inner tubes to the steep hills surrounding the private school.

Sasha Landau says she's not afraid of sledding anymore. "Well, the first time you do it, like when you're really little you're like oh no, what's gonna happen," she said. "But then when you're my age, which is nine, you're like, this is awesome!"

And with that, she squeezed into a blow up sled with her sister and a friend. With a push, the three girls bounded down the hill.

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