Massive Storm Sweeps Vermont

Mar 13, 2014

You know the old saying: March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Well, Wednesday and Thursday's weather may prove at least half of that adage true. A massive storm is hitting New England.

Track the National Weather Service radar for our region with this handy tool from WNYC.

Final Update 4:30 p.m. 3/13/14

More than a foot of snow blanketed many parts of the state over the past 36 hours, with some areas getting more than two feet. Difficult road conditions led to 150 to 200 calls to the Vermont State Police for vehicle-related incidents, according to the Vermont State Police's head of traffic operations.

Police urge Vermonters to continue to use caution on the roads, as high winds and cold temperatures could cause snow drifts and ice on the roadways.

Update 12:18 p.m. 3/13/14

The National Weather Service released a map of the snow accumulation totals across the state. The highest (26 inches!) was along the border between Windsor and Orange Counties.

Update 11:50 a.m. 3/13/14

We sat down with Vermont State Police Lt. Garry Scott, head of traffic operations, to talk about winter driving safety. Check out his tips on staying safe throughout the storm.

The City of Burlington announced that its parking ban continues tonight. Parked cars should be off the streets by 10 p.m. Thursday night until 7 a.m. Friday morning. See the Department of Public Works website for more information.

With all the canceled work and school today, Vermont's ski resorts seem to be a popular destination.

Update 9:52 a.m. 3/13/14

The Burlington International Airport is back in operation ahead of schedule according to Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.

Update 8:07 a.m. 3/13/14

Due to continued storm conditions and bad roads, a number of organizations were forced to close or delay service today. Check VPR's school closings page for a complete list of those.

  • Addison County Transit Resources canceled some morning services:

Due to storm - the MSB will start with 2 hour delay. All other ACTR routes are canceled for the morning - Tri-Town, 116, Rutland Connector (RC) and Snow Bowl(SB). Please check ACTR website for details. actr-vt.org.

  • The University of Vermont delayed opening, with all classes canceled until noon today.
  • Champlain College delayed opening until 11 a.m.
  • Flights into and out of Burlington International Airport are canceled until 10:30 a.m.

The storm caused some power outages overnight, but as of 8:05 a.m. there were just 50 outages across the state, according to the utility-run vtoutages.com.

Update 5:34 p.m. 3/12/14

The storm that has grounded flights at Burlington International Airport until Thursday morning and is expected to dump more than a foot of snow across the state is taking its toll. It's caused numerous problems on the roadways, outages and forced the closure of scores of schools.

Police, plow drivers, and power line crews are out in force today and are likely to be working through the night. Green Mountain Power officials said they have extra crews on standby to work on outages throughout the storm.

At a VTrans garage in Randolph, foreman Jerold Kinney said his crews are working around the clock just to keep up.

Despite the crews’ best efforts, there have been numerous interstate accidents, including at least three crashed tractor trailers. The late-season storm comes at the end of a long, cold winter for Vermont’s plow drivers and others.

Meanwhile, some low-income Vermonters have been forced to cut into their food budgets in order to pay for heat. 

Hal Cohen, executive director of the Central Vermont Community Action Council, says that while heating assistance requests have gone up this year, it's more common for Vermonters to forego food to cover heating costs. Hence the 100 percent increase in the number of people requesting food assistance.

Cohen says the council saw an uptick in crisis heating requests today, and he expects more through the rest of the week.

Update 5:15 p.m. 3/12/14

Gene Richards, the director of aviation at Burlington International Airport, confirms that all flights into and out of the airport are canceled until 10:30 a.m. Thursday, but the airport itself remains open.

Update 3:25 p.m. 3/12/14

Champlain College announced just after 3 p.m. that all evening classes starting at 5 p.m. or later on Wednesday will be canceled.

All other student activities will remain open. The cafeteria will maintain normal hours. Normal class schedules will resume on Thursday morning, March 13th.

Students, faculty and staff are advised to check champlain.edu for continued updates.

Update 2:41 p.m. 3/12/14

In addition to calling a parking ban for this evening and Thursday evening, the City of Burlington has canceled curbside recycling pick-ups scheduled for tomorrow, March 13. Recycling for Thursday customers will resume on March 20.

The Vermont Food Bank has closed due to difficult weather conditions and canceled Community Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) food deliveries for tomorrow, March 13. The following locations will receive deliveries again on March 20 at their normal times:

  • Milton: Cornerstone Church
  • Grand Isle: Round Barn and St. Joseph Church
  • Alburg: Pine Manor and Amadeus Parish

Update 1:50 p.m. 3/12/14

The utility-run website VToutages.com reports that more than 500 electricity customers are without power in Windsor County, with 32 customers out in Rutland County. Green Mountain Power serves all 584 customers without power and reports via Twitter that it has line crews ready to restore service.

Update 1:30 p.m. 3/12/14

Vermont State Police have closed one lane of Interstate 89 southbound near Colchester due to a weather-related accident.

One lane of Interstate 89, southbound in Colchester is blocked due to a tractor-trailer that has gone off the road.  This is in the area of mile-marker 95, which is between exits 17 (Champlain Islands) and 16 (Colchester/Winooski).

Officials and news outlets have reported many accidents throughout the morning and early afternoon. With snowfall expected to increase before the evening rush hour, police advise caution on the roadways.

This is only one of numerous vehicle crashes that the State Police are responding to as a significant winter storm moves through the area.  Driving conditions are expected to deteriorate as the snow continues and temperatures drop.  We remind motorists to slow down in adverse conditions, increase following distance between vehicles, and avoid unnecessary travel.

 

Update 11:50 a.m. 3/12/14

The National Weather Service in a regular briefing to first responders said the most intense snowfall of the storm will be mid to late afternoon Wednesday through midnight. During that time, snow may be coming down at a rate of one to two inches per hour, it said.

The briefing also said temperatures are expected to fall Wednesday night, down to the single digits above zero in most areas of Vermont by 8 a.m. Thursday. Follow @NWSBurlington on Twitter for continuing updates from the Burlington office of the National Weather Service.

Update 11:35 a.m. 3/12/14

Barre Mayor Thomas Lauzon has ordered Barre City Elementary and Middle School as well as Spaulding High School closed on Thursday, the Times Argus reports.

The City of Burlington has declared a parking ban for the night of March 12. Details on the ban are available on the city's website, here.

Update 10:28 a.m. 3/12/14 

A winter storm warning is in effect for the entire state through Thursday, according to the latest Eye on the Sky weather forecast, with up to two feet of snow predicted by the end of the storm.

The northern half of the state can expect 4 to 8 inches of heavy snow today; south of Route 4, snow will mix with rain and sleet for a 2 to 6 inch accumulation. Temps will drop tonight, with lows at zero to 10 degrees.

The Burlington School District has canceled all Wednesday afterschool activities, including Burlington Kids, and is asking that parents with students in grades K-8 pick their children up by the end of the Wednesday school day at 1:30 p.m. The high school day will end at 3 p.m. per usual.

Original post 5:44 p.m. 3/11/14: According to the Eye on the Sky forecast, Vermonters can expect a wintry mix of precipitation Wednesday with up to 20 inches of snow in northern mountain areas of the state.

As of Tuesday evening, more than 30 schools are already planning to stay closed on Wednesday. Check VPR's School Closings page for updates.

Green Mountain Power is preparing for widespread outages, especially in the southern part of the state, where heavy snow is expected to do damage.

“The buildup of several inches of wet, heavy snow brings down trees and branches onto power lines,” said Dorothy Schnure, Green Mountain Power spokesperson, in a statement. “We are intensely preparing now so that when outages occur they can be restored as quickly as possible.” 

The Burlington Fire Department is providing these tips for weathering the storm:

• Check in with your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or may be in need of assistance. 
• Ensure your home has a sufficient supply of whatever you use as “fuel” to heat your home. 
• Have extra items on hand in case you can’t leave your house for a while. 
        • Flashlight 
        • Batteries 
        • Battery powered radio 
        • Water 
        • Non-perishable foods 
 • Ask your town where the nearest warming shelter would be should it be needed. Vermont 2-1-1 has a list of shelters when there are shelters open. 
 • Be careful on slippery walkways – make sure you have good footing or just stay off them. 
 • If you lose power, keep your fridge and freezer closed to keep food cold and safe. A closed fridge will keep food for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours, a half-full freezer for about 24 hours. 
 • Don't cook and eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs or other refrigerated foods that have been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more. They can be contaminated with bacteria that can cause serious illness. 
 • Check out a weather report before heading out. 
 • Drive at appropriate speeds for conditions. 
 • Make sure your car is in good working condition with weather appropriate tires and plenty of gas. 

WNYC storm tracker: