BENNINGTON — “We’re done,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Chistina Speciale on Wednesday. This week’s nor’easter was a whopper, as the service predicted, she said.
And although a wind advisory was in effect for Southern Vermont until 4 p.m., the storm that dumped up to 40 inches on parts of the region had generally moved on, leaving power outages, buried cars, slick roads, downed trees and other problems in its wake. Of Southern Vermont and the Northern Berkshires, she said, “You guys really were ground zero.”
Speciale said snow totals at this point are estimates, as the Weather Service works to confirm reports. But, she said high elevations received up to 40 inches; most areas received about 2 feet; some places, including Bennington and Washington County, N.Y., saw about a foot of snowfall.
“We should be entering into a reprieve, if you want to call it that,” she said. More weather is forecast for the coming weekend, but Speciale said that is likely going to be more rain than snow.
Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette said there was a serious accident on Route 67 on Wednesday morning, when one car went off the road, and as the driver was standing outside the vehicle, that driver was hit by another car coming along behind. The injured driver was transported to the Albany Medical Center, Doucette said.
The Department of Public Works kept the roads “open and safe” throughout the storm, he said. And while the BPD fielded a steady stream of calls about power outages, trees down and other hazards, “the rest were all minor incidents. I think we’ve come out of this storm fairly well.”
Doucette thanked residents for staying off the roads and behaving in a safe manner during the storm, but warned everyone not to push snow out onto roadways as they clean up their properties, adding, “Pushing snow back into the road is a violation of Vermont law.”
Doucette said officers kept an eye out for people experiencing homelessness during the storm, but there was no need for emergency shelters.
“Now it’s just major cleanup that has to take place,” the chief said.
Leslie Perra, Manchester’s interim town manager, said the snowfall and power outages affected the town and surrounding communities. Perra lives in Sunderland and said that town got a good deal more snow than Manchester. She was without power for 12 hours on Tuesday, and noted that Green Mountain Power was reporting just over 600 Manchester customers still without power this morning.
Perra said anyone needing a warm place to be during work hours can come to Manchester’s town offices.
“If anyone needs overnight accommodations, we can make arrangements for that on a case by case basis,” Perra said.
According to Manchester Police Lt. James Blanchard, during the storm, police dealt with a vehicle that had crashed into some trees on Bonnet Street, a truck that hit a utility pole on Depot Street, two trailer trucks stuck on Depot Street, a car off the road on Route 7, power lines down in numerous locations around town and several alarms.
“Fortunately, we did not have any serious motor vehicle crashes or injuries,” he said in an email to the Journal. “The town was prepared to open the Emergency Operations Center as an emergency shelter to house people who were without power/heat if needed. There are still around 600 people without power in Manchester, however we have not needed to activate the emergency shelter.”
Manchester’s Department of Public Works has been working nonstop, he said, and has done a great job getting the roads cleared.
“This has been a challenging storm, but finally appears to be over,” Blanchard said Wednesday. “However, clean-up efforts are still ongoing.”
Green Mountain Power expanded its field force, as crews worked to restore power throughout the state. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 59,000 customers had been restored, with 24,000 left to go.
The crews face time-consuming challenges, working with local first responders in clearing roads from downed trees and lines, as the regionwide storm continued to dump cement-like snow through this morning, the company said in a statement.
The utility said forecasters have extended wind advisories and the winter storm warnings into this afternoon for some of the hardest hit areas of Vermont, which could cause additional outages and continued dangerous travel conditions.
“Adding to the complexity of this storm is the fact that the storm track shifted yesterday from the forecast, and it continues to change as we move into day two, with the warning extended through this afternoon now,” said Mike Burke, GMP’s vice president of field operations, in the statement Wednesday.
“We had already brought in external crews to work alongside ours before the storm hit, and now, we are enhancing our field team even further as other states less hard hit release their crews for mutual aid to Vermont,” he said. “This will help us to continue and even speed progress for customers.”
And while the extreme snowfall is a skier’s dream, at least some ski areas were struggling with the impacts of the storm.
Magic Mountain Ski Area posted on its Facebook page: “We just lost 1 of the 3 necessary phases of power to lodge and lift. Down power line on access road. Green Mountain Power is sending a truck and we will keep you posted as we work with GMP to restore power as soon as possible. Auxiliary diesel motor is running to evac the chair. Thank you.”
And the Viking Nordic Center in Londonderry was closed Wednesday, leaving a phone recording saying some staff couldn’t make it to work because of the storm, and work was underway to reach trails and make them ski-able.