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Power outages continue into second day for thousands of Vermonters

Trees and debris lie across a paved road
Howard Weiss-Tisman
Vermont Public
Westminster West Road in Putney was impassable Wednesday with trees and lines across the road. All of the homes in this area have been without power since Tuesday afternoon.

Thousands of Vermonters lost power Tuesday as a powerful late winter storm slammed southern and central Vermont.

Windham County accounted for about half of the state's total power outages as of late Wednesday morning, according to the power outage tracker VTOutages. Approximately 24,600 electric customers were out of power statewide, including about 12,500 in Windham County.

Public safety officials have said it’ll take days in some cases to restore power to affected households.

There were two shelters open as of Wednesday morning:

  • Warming and overnight Red Cross shelter at Brattleboro Union High School in Brattleboro
  • Warming center at Chroma Technology in Bellows Falls

Landgrove reported 40 inches of snowfall, said Erica Bornemann, director of Vermont Emergency Management, speaking on Vermont Edition on Wednesday. Areas around Wilmington saw three feet, she added.

"We saw a really high density of that snow. It's been described as cement-like," Bornemann said.

State police, in a tweet Tuesday afternoon, said they had responded to 106 weather-related crashes so far. The state had also closed several highways for a time Tuesday, including US Route 5 in Guildford, VT-11 in Chester near Sweet Road and VT-100 just south of Wardsboro.

A spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management said the state’s emergency operation center was partially activated to assist towns affected by the storm.

Utility trucks are parked in front of a beige building
Howard Weiss-Tisman
Vermont Public
Crews from throughout the Northeast are assisting Green Mountain Power in response to a snowstorm that knocked out power for thousands of Vermonters.

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. (Brochhausen first shared these tips with Vermont Public in December.) 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.

Other resources

A train moves toward the camera through snow
Wilson Ring
Associated Press
The southbound Amtrak Vermonter arrives at the station in Waterbury during a snowstorm on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. The train was traveling during a winter storm that was dropping heavy, wet snow across the Northeast. The storm caused a plane to slide off a runway, led to hundreds of school closings, canceled flights and thousands of power outages in parts of the Northeast on Tuesday.

  • Keep up-to-date on weather forecasts with the Eye on the Skyfrom 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!).

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

Updated: March 15, 2023 at 10:48 AM EDT
Note: This post has been updated to reflect the latest information Wednesday morning.
Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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