Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ice Storm Warning Northern Vermont: Stay Home Sat. Night, Sunday

The advertised big ice storm is here in Vermont and will get worse Saturday night and Sunday.
Latest National Weather Service ice forecast puts the worst
of the ice in northern New York and northern Vermont
(Click on the map to make it bigger and more readable)  

Light sleet and freezing rain caused a bunch of problems on Vermont's roads Friday afternoon and evening with lots of cars reportedly off the road. There were a lot of fender benders too.

There is a lull in the precipitation this Saturday morning, but roads remain icy.

Then the real show begins this afternoon and continues through Sunday morning.

There will be huge differences in what happens in northern Vermont in this storm over the space of just a few miles.

An ice storm warning is up for the Champlain Valley and all of northern Vermont within 30 miles or so of the Canadian border. That's the area where freezing rain will make roads almost impassable, and bring down trees and power lines.

A few places in the Champlain Valley, parts of northern New York and Vermont might have extensive tree and power line damage, but it's hard to pinpoint which towns this might happen to in advance.

Up to an inch of ice might accumulate, definitely making this the worst ice storm since 1998, as I've said. (As I've also said, it won't be as bad as 1998)

Given the complex array of temperatures over short changes in distance and elevation, some towns will be very iced in, others won't.

For instance, since there's warm air aloft, you might find yourself stuck in freezing rain misery in a valley location them climb a few hundred feet up a nearby hill and it's just rain, without  the ice

There is a chance that the far northern Champlain Valley and far northern and northwestern New York might have sleet mix in during the heaviest period of precipitation. That's actually a good thing. As unpleasant as sleet is, it doesn't stick to trees and power lines nearly as much as freezing rain, so that could help minimize the impact of the ice storm.

But don't count on it.  There will be subtle changes in temperature and wind during this storm. A change of maybe only one degree or a brief wind shift could really change the scenario in any given location from rain to ice to sleet, or whatever.

It'll be mostly rain in the southern half of Vermont and in the higher elevations, so it won't be so bad there.

However, it will rain so hard that flooding is possible Sunday in those locations.

What worries me the most is temperatures after the storm. On Christmas Eve night, temperatures across northern Vermont will probably fall well below zero. If the power is off, so is the heat. I worry about people in cold houses, freezing pipes, that sort of thing.

With the roads iced up and destined to get worse later today, people in the ice storm warning zoone should just basically sit at home and ride it out. Definitely a bad time to drive out and do your last minute Christmas shopping.

I'm making my escape from St. Albans, Vermont early this morning on a holiday trip to South Dakota, so I'll watch this storm from afar and hope for the best.

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