Vermont's about to get some gross weather. Here are resources to stay warm and safe
Vermonters should prepare for power outages and hazardous travel this week, as another winter storm hits the region.
A drastic swing in temperatures, along with snow, rain and high winds are in the forecast — primarily arriving in the state on Friday.
As a result of climate change, Vermont is already seeing warmer winters and increased precipitation.
Brooke Taber, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Burlington, says the potential for power outages is very high, and that Vermonters should avoid travel.
"You know, have an extra flashlight or two, have an alternative heating source, so you can try to keep as warm as possible, especially if you're along the western slopes, Champlain Valley, or even in portions of the higher terrain of central and northern Vermont," he said.
As we get closer to the end of the week, here is a timeline of the storm that will impact our region. There will be multiple impacts from this system including strong to damaging winds, heavy rain and potential flooding, and a flash freeze. pic.twitter.com/SABxgG6Y2b— NWS Burlington (@NWSBurlington) December 20, 2022
Flooding is also a possibility, Taber says. Rain and high temperatures on Friday could cause rivers to rise, especially Otter Creek, the Mad River and the Winooski River.
Temperatures are forecast to rise into the low 50's before quickly dropping into the 20's later on Friday. The Department of Public Safety's Vermont Emergency Management says a "flash freeze after the rain event" might cause "widespread travel concerns" both Friday night and into Saturday.
But the biggest impact in Vermont could be high winds. The state could see wind gusts between 50 and 70 miles an hour, Taber says.
"We're expecting those winds to develop early morning on Friday, probably between 2 and 3 in the morning, and continue about midday, noon, 1 o'clock," he said.
Vermont Emergency Management said Thursday that the State Emergency Operations Center "will be activated beginning Friday morning to coordinate support to local jurisdictions and utilities as they respond to this storm."
State officials recommended Vermonters check on their vulnerable neighbors before, during and after the storm to make sure they have food, water and heat.
Some generator guidelines
For those who do lose power, here's a little generator 101 from Jim Brochhausen, who owns Brook Field Service in Northfield. He says if you have an automatic standby generator, these are some things to keep in mind:
- Make sure your fuel tanks are full. If you run out of fuel and need an emergency delivery, particularly if it comes on a Sunday, that can be very expensive. And if there are trees down, fuel trucks might not make it to your house.
- It's a good idea to test your generator. On a nice day, just turn it on and make sure it's ready to go. If you have an issue, don't wait for the power outage to call your generator service company.
- If the battery in your generator dies, do not try to jumpstart it like you would a car.
- Have a professional service your generator at least once a year.
If you have a gasoline-powered portable generator, Brochhausen has these tips:
- Safety first: make sure you never run the generator inside, even if it's in a garage with the door open. Carbon monoxide is very deadly. Instead, run it outside, 10 feet away from windows and doors, with the exhaust pointed away from the building.
- It’s important that the house has a manual transfer switch so the generator doesn’t back feed to the power grid. Some folks try to take shortcuts, which can be dangerous, particularly for line workers who are working to get power back on in your neighborhood.
- Do not use ethanol gasoline in portable generators. They're small engines, and they need to run on premium gas; ethanol will ruin the generator over time. Plan ahead to address your fuel needs during a power outage.
With any kind of generator, try to be conservative with your electricity use when it’s on.
- Keep up-to-date on weather forecasts with the Eye on the Sky from the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium.
- Here's a list of warming shelters from Vermont 211.
- You can find a statewide power outage map here.
- Traffic and road conditions are listed on New England 511.
- The Department of Public Safety's Vermont Emergency management has tips for power outages, such as checking on older neighbors, never touching downed or damaged powerlines, having flashlights, a crank radio and extra batteries on hand, making sure your carbon monoxide detectors work and filling your bathtub with water to have as spare for flushing toilets and washing (though not for drinking!).
- And if you are bemoaning our loss of a white Christmas, the National Weather Service has helpfully made this graphic to show this has all happened before:
Dreaming of a white Christmas? As shown in this cool graphic, courtesy of our friends @NWSAlaska, BTV has had at least 1 inch of snow on the ground on Christmas nearly 70% of the time over the past 70 years! Unfortunately, it's still too early to know if we'll have snow this year pic.twitter.com/30NYvHW48f— NWS Burlington (@NWSBurlington) December 9, 2022
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