With coming 'flash freeze,' get off the roads by 4 p.m. Friday, Vt. officials warn
Updated 2:10 p.m.
At a press conference Friday, state officials warned Vermonters to take this storm seriously, and to get off the roads by 4 p.m. to avoid the coming "flash freeze."
"My message about the road is pretty short and sweet: You need to be where you are going to be tonight by 4 p.m.," said Jen Morrison, the Department of Public Safety commissioner. "After that, all bets are off, and you are taking a tremendous risk by being on the roads after the temperature drops."
Pete Banacos with the National Weather Service told Vermont Edition Friday that the flash freeze would begin with an initial burst of snow, then as temperatures drop, lead to black ice and icy road conditions. But it's not going to be an ice storm.
"This is just a quick glaze on the roads," Banacos said.
[Friday 6 AM] In addition to the strong winds, a flash freeze is likely this afternoon with temperatures rapidly falling below freezing. Travel can be very difficult. For the latest forecast, visit https://t.co/HA3gsVQ6Uy #vtwx #nywx pic.twitter.com/TvPJB4nw9F— NWS Burlington (@NWSBurlington) December 23, 2022
Morrison told Vermont Edition that anyone who is concerned about imminent flooding near their housing to call their local emergency services, and to leave for a warming shelter, a neighbor's house or another location before 4 p.m.
Morrison did share some good news, that the period of dangerous winds was likely over as of noontime.
Vermont Electric CEO Rebecca Towne told Vermont Edition that unstable tree limbs and freezing later on Friday could still present a risk to powerlines.
"I just want to reiterate though, the power is going to be off for quite a while for some people. And it's going to be very cold on the back end of this system. I can't stress enough how important it is to ensure that you have a plan for your own personal safety, especially as we go into the weekend in while people are trying to celebrate holidays."Erica Bornemann, Director of Vermont Emergency Management
At the press conference Friday morning, Vermont Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn said VTrans is "at maximum strength and full readiness," with close to 300 people out to clear roads "until the threat is over."
Officials also asked Vermonters to have a plan in place if they lose power, because they may not get it back for a day or days. According to VTOutages, over 61,000 households are without power as of 2:10 p.m. Friday.
"Our primary concern and our priority for managing the state response to this event is assessing sheltering need, and developing a plan to provide shelter and warming centers across the state to communities that are hit the worst," said Director of Vermont Emergency Management Erica Bornemann. "I just want to reiterate though, the power is going to be off for quite a while for some people. And it's going to be very cold on the back end of this system. I can't stress enough how important it is to ensure that you have a plan for your own personal safety, especially as we go into the weekend in while people are trying to celebrate holidays."
As of 1:02pm, there are currently FOUR warming Centers that we know of that are open.— Vermont 211 (@Vermont211) December 23, 2022
- Fayston Town Hall - 866 North Fayston Rd
- Norwich Public Safety Building - 10 Hazen Street
- Richmond Town Offices - 203 Bridge St until 4pm
- Shelburne - 5420 Shelburne Rd pic.twitter.com/MJFsfw72vo
Morrison, the public safety commissioner, said officials are concerned about Vermonters "getting creative" while trying to stay warm and keep their pipes from freezing. I.e., do not use a blow torch inside, ever.
"Please do not build fires in places that they're not meant to be," she said. "Be careful with generators, make sure they're properly vented."
With extreme winter weather expected across the county, the risk of bursting pipes increases as temperatures drop. ❄️🚰 Want more tips on preventing and thawing frozen pipes? Tap here ➡️ https://t.co/jEJctZW5GQ pic.twitter.com/fddh04GBsK— American Red Cross (@RedCross) December 23, 2022
For those traveling in and out of Vermont, several flights out of Burlington International Airport have been canceled today, as a winter storm with high winds hits the state.
But Nic Longo, the airport's director of aviation, says some flights are still taking off today, including a Delta flight to Atlanta.
"So we have five airline cancellations so far that I see on the board," Longo said. "The great news is though we still do have airlines operating."
Longo says a southern section of the airport grounds lost power today, but that outage did not impact the terminal.
Forecasted Severe Winter Weather Causes Service Changes Update pic.twitter.com/T0Bx0GNAmT— Amtrak Northeast (@AmtrakNECAlerts) December 23, 2022
And Amtrak has canceled service in Vermont today. In a tweet, Vermont's Agency of Transportation said that both the Ethan Allen Express and Vermonter trains will not travel in Vermont on Friday.
The agency says the cancellation is due to the potential for downed trees to fall onto train tracks. Service is expected to resume on Saturday, weather permitting.
Resources to stay warm and safe
- 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 also call your town/city office.
- You can find a statewide power outage map here.
- Traffic and road conditions are listed on New England 511.
- You can sign up for emergency updates about weather and road conditions.
- Here's health safety advice from the Vermont Department of Health.
- The American Red Cross has advice for how to keep pipes from freezing.
- Make sure heating vents are cleared of snow; carbon monoxide is deadly and undetectable.
- If you have a generator, make sure the fuel tank is full beforehand. Never run a generator inside.
- 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!).
As always, tune into Vermont Public on your radio for the latest weather updates.
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