Despite Hype, Storm Brings Less Snow To Vermont Than Expected
A powerful coastal storm is forecasted to bring heavy snow and high wind to Vermont, beginning in the southern part of the state on Monday afternoon and moving northward through Tuesday.
Final update 1/28/15 11:09 a.m. Montpelier's parking ban will end at 1 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29; parking will once again be permitted on city streets between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m.
Update 1/27/15 3:42 p.m. Amtrak will resume operations between New York and Boston with a modified schedule on the Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains, according to a release from the company. Full service between New York and Washington has been restored, and the Vermonter will operate on its normal schedule. Find Amtrak's latest service alerts here.
Update 1/27/15 1:13 p.m. Route 9 in Searsburg is now open to full traffic.
Update 1/27/15 11:39 a.m. One partial lane of traffic is currently open on Route 9 in Searsburg, according to a release from the Vermont State Police, while a heavy-duty wrecker removes a truck that jack-knifed this morning.
Update 1/27/15 10:15 a.m. Route 9 in Searsburg is currently closed due to a jack-knifed tractor trailer, according to a release from the Vermont Department of Public Safety.
The City of Montpelier has announced that a parking ban will go into effect at 1 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 28. During this time, cars parked on city streets between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. may be ticketed and towed. Find a map of areas where parking is permitted here.
Update 1/27/15 10:07 a.m. As weather conditions slowly improve, Amtrak is resuming limited operation of the Empire Service between New York and Albany, according to a release from the company. The Lake Shore Limited (Chicago – New York/Boston) will now operate between New York and Chicago, but connecting service to and from Boston remains suspended. Find more information on Amtrak's service here.
VPR's school closings page is back up, but will be purged at 11 a.m. Check back on Tuesday night and Wednesday mornings for the next round of closures.
Update 1/27/15 10:02 a.m. In New York City, the forecast for the storm has been downgraded to just a foot, and the conditions causing that decrease in snowfall are also affecting our region.
"The western edge of the storm has some very, very dry air," said Fairbanks Museum Meteorologist Mark Breen. "So the moisture is coming in from the ocean, but it's running into this dry air and evaporating rather rapidly, more so than expected. What that means is that they'll be an even wider range in a more narrow zone in terms of the snowfall." Breen said that means the Adirondacks will only see a dusting to 1 inch, and Brattleboro and Keene may see up to 2 feet.
Breen said the storm is a classic Nor'easter. "It's the kind of storm that especially for central and southern New England, closer to the coastline, they get this type of storm at least twice a decade, sometimes three or four times."
For the Champlain Valley, Breen updated his forecast this morning to a trace to 2 inches of snow. That may have some snow lovers disappointed. "Don't despair, this is the first of what may be several opportunities to get some snow. By the time we get into the middle of February the landscape may look a little bit different."
As far as road conditions, Breen said it is snowing in the area of Interstate 89, south of Montpelier. "Areas south of there will see some moderate to heavy snow through the day, driving conditions will be fair to poor. Obviously, it's one of those, if you don't have to drive, if you can delay your plans, that may be a better idea."
Update 1/27/15 6:30 a.m. Snow is falling over the southern portions of the state and will move northward throughout the day.
The Vermont Transportation Agency will have more than 250 plow trucks out for the storm. Already, road conditions are difficult in Bennington and Windham counties, fair in Rutland, Windsor and Orange. You can find road condition information here.
There are school closings this morning in all counties in Vermont except the northwest corner. VPR's school closings page is down, so please use this one.
Update 7:01 p.m. While Connecticut and Massachusetts are banning highway travel beginning at 9 p.m. and midnight tonight, respectively, there is currently no travel ban planned for Vermont, according to a release from the office of Gov. Peter Shumlin and the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
However, those out on the roads are urged to use caution and reduce their speeds. In southern and central Vermont, where forecasters are calling for the highest snow accumulation, residents should travel during the storm only when necessary, according to the release.
VTrans has 250 plow trucks at the ready to begin clearing roads ahead of the Tuesday morning commute.
These cancellations are in effect or planned:
- Vermont Translines intercity bus service to Albany has been cancelled for tomorrow. For more information please visit www.vttranslines.com.
- Greyhound Intercity service to New York City and Boston is suspended as of this afternoon. For more information visit www.greyhound.com.
In anticipation of difficult driving conditions on Route 9, VTrans will be activating truck chain-up areas in Wilmington and Bennington.
Message boards in Bennington will alert truckers of the chain-up area at the Bennington Welcome Center, located just north of town on VT 279, where truckers are requested to either put tire chains on their trucks to travel VT 9 or park and wait out the storm. There is currently room for approximately 15 trucks at this location. The Wilmington chain-up site is located just west of town along the old Route 9 alignment adjacent to the marina at Harriman Reservoir. There is room for approximately six trucks at this location.
The Transportation Operations Center will be staffed throughout the storm; updates on road conditions are available at 511vt.com or by dialing 511.
Update 2:54 p.m. Seventeen flights from Burlington International Airport to New York and surrounding areas have already been affected by the storm, according to Gene Richards, director of aviation.
“Two thirds of our flights this morning were canceled and we expect over the next couple days that our New York flights will be canceled as well.” Richards says. “But we believe our Atlanta our Chicago our Washington will all be fine.”
Meanwhile, Cape Air canceled two of its three passenger flights from Rutland to Boston Monday and the airline says it will decide later tonight which additional flights in and out of Boston may have to be canceled.
For those traveling by rail, Amtrak planned to operate on a normal schedule Monday. But spokesperson Christina Leeds says they’ll reevaluate their northeastern routes as weather conditions warrant.
“What we’ve done is strategically placed equipment along the northeastern corridor to more quickly respond to problems,” Leeds says. “That includes putting on track maintenance equipment as well as diesel locomotives that can help with any areas that have overhead electrical problems.”
Leeds says independent contractors are also on standby to help respond to downed trees or limbs along the right away.
She says Amtrak will try to notify passengers as quickly as possible with service changes but she recommends those traveling by rail check frequently for updates at Amtrak.com.
While Vermont is projected to be on the edge of the winter storm, forecasters say the southern half of the state may get as much as 12 to 18 inches of snow – something Killington spokesperson Michael Joseph says will be tremendous for the ski industry.
“The phones are definitely ringing,” Joseph said Monday. “People are very interested in how much snow we’re getting and when exactly the storm is coming in. I think everyone is tracking it.”
Though Joseph said the snow will be a boon for trail conditions, he cautioned ambitious skiers and riders.
“Transportation is going to be tough from down country, so we’re encouraging people to kind of get out ahead of the storm or take their time and come up afterwards,” he said. “The snow is going to linger and we’re not expecting a warm up on the backside, so the snow should be really good for a long time.”
Update 1:12 p.m. With current forecasts calling for up to two feet of dry snow and strong wind, the American Red Cross is strongly encouraging Vermonters, especially those in the central and southern part of the state, to prepare for "the possibility of blizzard-like conditions" late Monday night and through Tuesday.
“The American Red Cross is currently working with our volunteers and state partners in preparation for the storm,” said Red Cross Executive Director Larry Crist. “With the chance of power outages likely, we ask that residents plan ahead and remember to check in on neighbors throughout the storm.”
The Red Cross recommends the following preparations for the storm:
Assembling Emergency Preparedness Kits: Pack winter-specific supply kits for both home and your vehicle that include a flashlight, first aid supplies, warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves, and water-resistant boots, along with blankets and extra warm clothing. Sand or non-clumping kitty litter is good to have on hand in case your car is stuck and to help make walkways or steps less slippery. Additionally, your home kit should have essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries in the event of a power outage. Preparing Your Home and Car: Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full, which helps prevent the fuel line from freezing. Make sure your home is properly insulated by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to help keep cold air out. Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year. Running water, even at a trickle, helps to prevent pipes from freezing.
Update 10:34 a.m. The Vermont Agency of Transportation will be deploying as soon as the storm begins, and plans to have more than 250 trucks on the road as the storm peaks and during the Tuesday morning commute, according to a release from the office of Gov. Peter Shumlin, the Vermont Department of Public Safety and VTrans.
“This isn’t the first winter storm of the season here in Vermont as it is for other parts of the northeast,” Gov. Shumlin said. “Nonetheless, parts of Vermont, especially southern counties, could see more than a foot of snow. We are prepared and will closely monitor conditions over the next few days. Vermonters know how to deal with winter weather, and I encourage everyone to use good Vermont common sense over the next few days.”
At noon on Monday, the Vermont Emergency Operations Center will open at "partial activation" to assist towns that may need resources and monitor the storm, according to the release.
A winter storm warning goes into effect Monday evening and Tuesday for Orange County and southern Vermont, New Hampshire, the Berkshires and adjacent New York, while a winter weather advisory is set for Monday night and Tuesday for Montpelier southwest to Middlebury and far northeast Vermont, according to the Eye on the Sky.
The following snow accumulations are expected:
- Champlain Valley west and north: 1 to 4 inches
- Northern Green Mountains southwest to Lake George: 4 to 8 inches
- Southern Vermont, New Hampshire and the Berkshires: 8 to 16 inches
- Localized areas in the far south: Up to 2 feet
Airlines in the region have preemptively canceled hundreds of flights; there are several canceled incoming and outgoing flights at Burlington International Airport (BTV), including planes traveling to and from New York's LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports, Newark and Philadelphia.
Amtrak has already begun making preparations for the storm, hiring independent contractors to respond to downed limbs on the rails and added additional mechanical, engineering and operations staffing. Amtrak plans to operate a normal Monday schedule, but issued this warning to passengers:
"Announcements about service changes will be made as far in advance as possible, but passengers holding reservations for travel late Monday and early Tuesday are strongly encouraged to keep a close eye on conditions and make any necessary changes in advance of their scheduled departure."
The storm could impact trains out of Rutland and Essex Junction, as well as trains on the Adirondack line.
VPR will continue to update this post as the storm continues.