Fierce storm strikes region, Poultney hit hardest
By Darren Marcy
Staff Writer | July 03,2014
A fierce thunderstorm pounded Rutland County late Thursday afternoon with strong winds and and a torrential downpour knocking out power to thousands and pelting the area with another round of damaging hail.
Scott Whittier, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Burlington, said portions of Rutland took the brunt of the storm.
Poulney suffered so much damage the town has canceled all its festivities scheduled for Friday, said Town Manager Jonas Rosenthal.
“It's a mess, we have no power,” Rosenthal said. “Everything is canceled.”
“(The storm) brought two rounds of heavy thunderstorms right across Rutland,” Whittier said. “It ended up producing hail of 1 inch and greater in Rutland and in some of the immediate suburbs.”
He estimated wind gusts “at a minimum of 60 to 70 mph."
The Poultney area was hit particularly hard with trees down, utility poles snapped and thousands without power.
Just after 8 p.m., Vermont State Police reported Route 30 impassable through the entire town of Poultney because of trees and wires down. Other roads were also blocked.
Some structures were damaged as well, with at least one chimney toppled at Dr. Mike Scovner's office on Main Street.
Green Mountain Power reported thousands of outages.
GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said Poultney, where winds in excess of 70 mph were reported, was the hardest hit.
“We've got multiple poles down, wires down,” she said at about 7:30 p.m. “There's a lot going on in Poultney. We've got, at this point, 363 separate events and about 5,000 customers without power and 2,000 of those are in Poultney.”
Other heavy concentrations were in West Rutland and the Rutland City.
“Rutland was damaged by the same storm cell coming through, but to a lesser extent,” she said.
Rutland Fire Chief Robert Schlachter said his crews were kept hopping but all the calls ended up being trees into wires. Some resulted in small fires but no structure fires were reported.
One large tree broke in two places and fell on a building at the corner of Nickwackett Street and Washington Street.
The city also put out its water barrier across the front of the transit center, which prevented water from flowing down into the center.
The largest impact was the power outages.
Schnure said GMP had 55 of its own two-person line crews out along with 32 contract line crews and 50 contract tree crews. She said further outages were possible as the storm system moved through the state and that the company expected it would not have power restored to everyone until the end of Friday.
Whittier said the heavy rainfall and thunderstorms were widespread across south central Vermont with the most damaging winds and large hail “confined basically from Poultney through Rutland and getting into portions of western Windsor County.”
Whittier said there were thunderstorms in the northern part of the state, but not as severe.
The genesis for the latest storm can be traced to several days of humid weather.
“We've been in this humid air mass for the last three or four days (and) we're finally getting a disturbance that came through New York and has lifted across Vermont,” Whittier said.