BENNINGTON — Nearly 30,000 Vermonters — and climbing — remained without power mid-day Tuesday after a powerful nor’easter blasted the region starting Monday evening. The heavy weather, including wind gusts and more snow, is expected to continue into Wednesday.
As of 3:50 p.m., there were 29,205 GMP customers still out, with 975 incidents in 116 towns. Nearby communities affected by outages included Pownal, with 979 homes without; Jamaica, 914; Bennington, 815; Londonderry, 624; Winhall, 613; Manchester, 565; Stamford, 468; Arlington, 433; Shaftsbury, 307; Sunderland, 301; Dorset, 299; Readsboro, 267; Stratton, 215; Weston, 168; Wilmington, 85; Rupert, 38; Peru, 26; Danby, 22; Woodford, 16; Sandgate, 11; Landgrove, eight; and Pawlet, three.
Green Mountain Power reported Tuesday that utility crews had restored power to more than 21,000 customers since the storm began Monday night, as the water-laden snow from the regionwide nor’easter took down trees and lines, the utility said in a statement.
Cars off road, downed lines, fallen limbs
Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette spent part Tuesday out on the roads assisting with calls. He said there had been no reports of injuries, although the department had received numerous calls about cars off the road, downed power lines and other weather-related hazards, including falling tree limbs. Doucette said trees fell on two homes in Bennington.
The chief cautioned Tuesday afternoon that there was still more to come.
“This is a long-duration storm. We are waiting for the winds to start. The storm has lightened up, but this storm is far from over,” Doucette said.
As of Tuesday, no shelter space was required in Bennington, he said. “We are expecting the next 24 hours to be a challenge, with continued snow and wind. We are asking people to stay home.”
Doucette said the town Department of Public Works had most of the snow-covered roads cleared, some down to pavement, by midday.
Up to 26 inches at elevation
In total, through Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service was forecasting snow accumulations of between 12 to 18 inches in southern Vermont, with amounts up to 26 inches in higher elevations. Wind gusts were expected to hit 45 mph in places, and snowfall rates reached 1 to 2 inches per hour at times.
Some roads were reported closed today. Vermont State Police advised that Route 9 near the chain-up was closed because of trees and power lines on the roadway. And Route 7A in Arlington was also closed this morning with a tree down on the road.
The National Weather Service was reporting highs today near 35, with wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour. Coming on the heels of Monday night’s snowfall, additional accumulations of 4 to 8 inches were possible for today, with another 1 to 3 inches possible tonight. More snow is possible for Wednesday, mainly before 2 p.m., but only about an inch is forecast.
Green Mountain Power issued an advisory late-morning that forecasters expanded the winter storm warning to a larger section of Vermont, including more northern counties.
“We expanded our field force in advance of the storm and crews are working as quickly as safely possible to restore power and provide estimated restoration times. As the wet heavy snow continues to come down across the state through tomorrow, we know already this will be a multi-day restoration,” said Mike Burke, GMP’s vice president of field operations, in a statement.
“Storms like these produce snow that is full of water causing it to stick to trees and power lines like cement. Over time, this weight can cause new outages, even as we’re making progress on restorations.”
The utility reminded customers to stay away from downed trees and power lines, and to contact the utility to report hazards.
Given the scale of the storm, the Vermont Emergency Operations Center was partially activated Tuesday afternoon to assist towns and utilities with resource needs and other support. Utilities expect restoration to take more than a day, in some areas. Vermont Emergency Management advised people to report an outage to their electric utility, and to call 2-1-1 if they are in need of shelter.
In Windham County
In Brattleboro, early one-quarter of the town was without power midday today.
In response, the Red Cross opened a temporary shelter at Brattleboro Union High School.
Additionally, there are more than 30 roads in town that were partially blocked or closed, said Brattleboro Fire Chief Leonard Howard in a statement.
“And we expect more downed trees as the winds intensify,” he wrote.