Area preps for winter’s first storm

Thursday December 27, 2012


Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Get ready for some snow.

"We are monitoring several different forecasts but they are all starting to report similar things," said Jeremy Baker, a spokesman for Green Mountain Power, the state’s largest electrical utility.

Snow, sleet, freezing rain

The National Weather Services is predicting between five and nine inches of snow to fall over Wednesday night and between three and five inches to come on top of that during the day. It has issued a winter storm warning and a hazardous weather outlook for much of New England. According to the weather service based in Albany, N.Y., sleet and freezing rain can be expected early Thursday morning. In the valleys, there may be an overall accumulation of between five and 12 inches of snow, and in the mountains between eight and 16 inches. Rain is expected later on in the day.

Wind will be part of the mix, with speeds between 15 and 25 mph in the Green Mountains with gusts of up to 55 mph.

"Preparation began with a conference call Christmas Day once the forecast started taking shape," Baker said. "Several line workers and assessment teams from the northern areas of our company traveled to Wilmington and Brattleboro this afternoon ahead of the storm. Nearly 40 contract line workers from as far away as Ontario will join forces with GMP lineworkers and tree trimmers to ensure we have plenty of resources for this event."

He said the snow is not expected to cause such problems but the wind may, especially between Rutland and Bennington. Snow may delay response times, he said.

How a wind storm that knocked out power to 34,000 GMP customers late last week will affect things is unclear, Baker said. GMP crews are mindful of wood debris left in trees from the wind storm and it is possible snow may damage weakened trees. It’s also possible the wind knocked down everything that was going to come down.

Bennington Town Manager Stuart Hurd said the town road crew has salt and sand ready to go and plans to be out by at least 3 a.m. Thursday to make morning commutes safer.

The storm headed for this area is part of a system that has passed over the Midwest, killing six people, knocking out power for thousands, causing flights to be canceled, and making for hazardous driving conditions. It was responsible for tornadoes in the south on Christmas Day.

While schools are not in session for the winter vacation, anyone who can avoid driving is being advised to do so.

According to Baker, power outages can be reported by calling 1-888-835-4672. GMP also has a "Power Out" button on Facebook which can be used to report an outage.

The company also offers some safety tips to observe during a power outage.

* Have access to a phone not dependent upon electricity.

* Fill a bathtub with water ahead of time to use in flushing toilets and do not let small children have unsupervised access to said bathroom.

* Treat all downed power lines as though they were live. Report their locations to local authorities and stay away from them.

* For those using generators, read the directions and follow them. Do not use one inside or near a building, and make use of a transfer switch to avoid feeding a line where utility workers are active.

* Keep refrigerators and freezers closed to keep the cold air in and prevent food from being spoiled.

* Turn off all electrical appliances but leave one light on so its obvious when the power comes back on. Don’t turn everything on all at once when power comes back.

* Don’t use a grill inside, the fumes are hazardous.


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