Snowstorm bearing down on Vermont
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | December 26,2012
Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Bill Hunter, Kathy Finnegan and Mike Finnegan, left to right, head to the slopes at the Pico Ski Resort on Christmas Day. Vermont is expected to get 8 to 14 inches of snow tonight and Thursday morning.
A white Christmas in Vermont will be followed up by a storm that will turn the Green Mountain State a lot whiter.
A hard-charging storm that prompted thunderstorm and tornado warnings throughout the South on Christmas is expected to arrive in Vermont tonight, bringing snow and moderate to high winds, according to the National Weather Service.
“The whole state is going to feel the impacts of this storm,” meteorologist Brooke Taber said Christmas afternoon shortly before the weather service issued a winter storm warning for the region.
The storm, which is projected to have the greatest impact in Rutland County and central-northern Vermont, is expected to dump 8 to 14 inches of snow between 7 p.m. today and 7 a.m. Friday, Taber said.
The coastal Nor’easter is also expected to bring something less welcome with it — winds of 40 to 45 mph.
Coming less than a week after windstorms knocked out power to homes and businesses for up to three days, the prospect of more downed trees and power lines is the last thing that Green Mountain Power and its line workers want to consider, according to company spokesman Jeremy Baker.
“I think we had enough for one week,” Baker said Tuesday.
But he said the utility’s operational staff didn’t believe the projected winds would do as much damage as Friday’s gusts, which clocked at 70 mph in some parts of Rutland, Bennington and Addison counties.
Hardest hit by those winds were the towns of Lincoln and Castleton, where power wasn’t restored until Monday morning.
While the utility was planning on Christmas to deal with outages in the next couple of days, Baker said there was reason to believe the damage would be much lighter from the snowstorm.
“If the winds are below 50 mph it shouldn’t be too bad at this time of year with the leaves off the trees,” Baker said. “It’s a concern that we won’t take lightly, but we should be OK.”
In addition to the weaker winds, the projected snowfall — while high — isn’t expected to be wet and heavy, Baker said.
“We’ve heard the snowfall will be dry and light,” he said.
In the ski industry, that kind of snow is referred to as champagne powder — a fitting name for a storm that promises to have Vermont ski areas uncorking bottles to toast a good holiday week.
“This storm is coming at a good time for us,” said Bonnie MacPherson, spokeswoman for Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, on Tuesday. “And it’s a nice reward for those who booked ahead.”
More than half of Okemo’s 119 trails were open on Christmas Day thanks to rigorous snowmaking. If the resort receives the 11 inches of snow anticipated to fall there this week, MacPherson predicted the whole mountain would be open.
At Killington Ski Resort, snowmakers have been busy adding layers to the light falls of natural snow this month.
But while artificially made snow can cover the major trails, it doesn’t inspire far-flung snowboarders and skiers whose backyards in states like New Jersey, New York and Connecticut have been mostly brown until now, according to Rob Megnin, Killington’s director of marketing.
“It’s looking epic for the weekend,” Megnin said. “We’re really excited about it.”