Sunday, December 29, 2013

Another Really Complicated Storm In Full Swing In Vermont

What is it about this winter and weird storms in Vermont, anyway?
The National Weather Service's take on how
much snow will fall in tonight's storm 

Just about every kind of weather is going on now, with heavy, wet snow socking parts of central and southern Vermont, some rain in the low elevations, and sharp differences in weather over short distances.

Kind of like what happened during that ice storm a week or so back, huh?

Central and southeastern Vermont, particularly in the high elevations, are in for more than six inches of heavy, wet snow tonight. That means more power failures will come as the weight of the slush caves in trees and power lines.

This, when not everybody has gotten their power back after the damage from last week's ice storm.

Today, there was some melting of the ice, which caused branches that were weighed down by ice to snap back upright, taking some power lines with them, Vermont Electric Cooperative spent much of Sunday dealing with 1,000 or more power failures that kept getting repaired, only to be undone again by shifting and falling tree branches.

Another odd thing is going on in northwestern Vermont. A shallow cold front, ahead of the main cold front sagged into the northern Champlain Valley, causing the kind of bizarre, intense temperature contrasts we had last weekened.

At one point late this afternoon, it was 42 degrees in Burlington and 23 degrees about 30 miles to the north in Highgate. That means more freezing rain is likely in Franklin and Grand Isle counties, which don't need more ice.

Luckily, the heaviest precipitation with the storm will miss the far northwest, so the freezing rain won't come down hard. It will be enough to make the roads ridiculously icy, but probably not enough to cave in more trees and powerlines, except in those few areas where the ice didn't melt off trees over the weekend.

This storm is going to be a quick one, with that 6, 7, or 8 inches of snow piling up in the southeastern half of Vermont in just a few hours, ending late tonight. It looks like northwestern Vermont will only get a dusting to two inches.

Late tonight, or very early tomorrow morning, an Arctic cold front comes in with sharply falling temperatures, snow showers and wind. With a flash freeze due with this, the Monday morning commute will probably be icy and joyless.

Sorry about that.

In many recent winters, we've gotten used to cold waves that last only a day or two, but this one will go all week. Each night will get below zero, and some days will barely crack zero for highs. It looks like Wednesday and Thursday will be the chilliest days of this episode, with many Vermont towns possibly getting down to 20 below.

There are some hints we might get another coastal storm around Thursday or Friday. Usually, it warms up a bit during these storms, often into the 20s, but if we do get this one, it won't get warm. It would be a very cold snowstorm, with temperatures staying in the single digits.

Stay tuned on that storm. Let's just get through tonight's first.

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