Friday October 28, 2011

BENNINGTON -- Haunted hay rides over the Halloween weekend may have to swap out wagons with horse-drawn sleighs as a half-foot of snow is possible following the few inches that fell here Thursday evening.

Thursday’s snowfall marked the first of the season -- coming more than a month earlier than last year’s inaugural snow -- and dropped as much as 5.8 inches in Woodford, according to the National Weather Station in Albany, N.Y.

In Albany, the 1.6 inches of snow that fell set a new a record for the date -- surpassing the 0.2 inches that fell in 1957. Historical snowfall by date was not available in Bennington County because NWS relies on eyewitness reports for Southern Vermont that are not always provided, said Meteorologist Brian Frugis.

The earliest fall snow reported in the county was on Oct. 4, 1987, date of the infamous "October storm" that dumped heavy snows and knocked out power throughout the region.

Still, Frugis said, an Oct. 27 snow accumulation is rare. "I would say it’s definitely unusual to get accumulating snow this early," he said.

4.7 inches in Pownal

In Pownal, the NWS reported 4.7 inches of snow, further north in Sunderland snow accumulation was measured to be 3.5 inches and Landgrove was 4.5 inches. The NWS did not receive a snow accumulation report from Bennington, where a couple inches also fell.

What was left on the ground Friday morning will likely be covered with fresh powder beginning Saturday afternoon and continuing into Sunday.


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Some areas can expect 6 to 7 inches of snow and even the valleys can expect accumulation, Frugis said. "We’re going to have a storm system moving up the East Coast tomorrow into tomorrow night," Frugis said. "Snow will be breaking out probably by the mid-day across all Southern Vermont -- pretty heavy at times during the afternoon and evening."

Bennington County was under a "winter storm watch" Friday and by evening was expected to be upgraded to a "winter storm warning," Frugis said in the afternoon.

Earlier in the week there was only a small chance of snow this weekend and not nearly the amount that now looks possible. The forecast changed as the weekend drew near and a storm continued to track further north than expected.

"Originally, we were expected to get brushed by this storm. Now, we’re looking at a good amount of precipitation from it," Frugis said.

Bennington’s first Fallapalooza is still scheduled for the downtown Saturday, but John Shannahan, director of the Better Bennington Corp. said that if there is snow or rain the live entertainment may be canceled. Just one of the nearly 40 vendors had canceled as of Thursday afternoon.

Temps in the 40s

With temperatures in the mid-40s Friday, much of the snow that fell Thursday had melted, but before it had done so the state plows were busy clearing the roads. There were at least two automobile accidents reported in Bennington that may have been caused by the snowy conditions, although little detail about them was available from police as of press time.

On Thursday evening a section of Route 9 in the area of Hogback Mountain in Marlboro was closed to traffic for more than an hour after multiple commercial vehicles were unable to ascend the slippery mountain and blocked the road.

State Police said approximately 5 inches of snow had fallen in the area by around 8:30 p.m. Thursday, making the road difficult to pass.

A little after 9:30 p.m. State Police sent a release to media indicating the road was reopened after crews from the state Agency of Transportation plowed and spread sand in the area.

The weather also caused damage to a construction zone between Exit 2 and Exit 3 on Interstate 91 in Brattleboro, which caused the highway to be closed for about two hours before noon.