Monday, December 26, 2016

Storm Rages In North Dakota; Also Impacts Here In Vermont

Traffic cam near Bismarck, North Dakota along
Interstate 94 demonstrated the dangerous driving
conditions in the region Sunday night. 
As expected, it was a wild Christmas Day in the Northern Plains as a powerful storm brought blizzards, lots of ice, high winds, rain and severe thunderstorms.

The storm, heading into Canada, will hit my area in Vermont and surrounding areas with freezing rain and strong winds today. I'll get to that in a bit.


North and South Dakota, and parts of Minnesota really took the brunt of this storm, A good chunk of western and central North Dakota, and northwestern South Dakota, had their expected blizzard.

Central South Dakota, eastern North Dakota and adjacent parts of Minnesota had a damaging ice storm, with ice accumulatiions of up to a half inch. That brought down quite a few trees and power lines.

Thousands of Dakotans lost electricity.

Everywhere in the region, the wind howled, with gusts over 55 mph reported over a wide area of the Northern and Central Plains. Some areas got 70 mph.  Long stretches of Interstate highways in the Dakotas were closed because of the dangerous conditions.

The weather in Rapid City, South Dakota had to be practically the worst in the world shortly before 1 p.m. Christmas Day. At the time, the temperature was 21 degrees, freezing rain was falling and the wind was northwest at 35 mph gusting to 70 mph.

Not a lot of outdoor Christmas caroling in Rapid City at that moment, I bet!

Many areas in the eastern Dakotas had thunder and lightning accompany the snow and/or ice.

For instance, my relatives in the city of Yankton, in southeastern South Dakota, experienced a Christmas that featured loud morning thunderstorms, gusty winds, rain, then howling gusts of up to 72 mph last night.

I'm sure there's tree damage and power failures in that area.

Also as expected, the storm disrupted Christmas travel. The appropriately named meteorologist Greg Gust at the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, North Dakota said "Between the ice and snow, and winds howling like crazy, there will be nothing moving," he said, according to CBS News.

The weather will gradually improve in the Northern Plains today, even as it deteriorates in the Northeast.


For my readers in Vermont, today's going to be tricky as a result of that sprawling storm that hit the Dakotas.

The strong storm's warm front is heading into the Northeast, along with a packet of strong winds in soe areas, so it's going to be a tricky day and evening in many areas.

Freezing rain advisories are up for broad areas of Pennsylvania and New York today, and in northwestern Connecticut, western Massachusetts, eastern Vermont and much of New Hampshire this afternoon and evening.

The freezing rain won't be heavy enough anywhere in this region to bring down trees and power lines, but it will be more than enough to make roads very icy and treacherous.

Even as temperatures rise above freezing this evening, the ice will remain for awhile because the ground is rather cold.

Additionally, a freezing rain warning is up for southern Quebec, and a winter weather advisory is up for northern New Hampshire and much of interior Maine for a couple to a few inches of snow, followed by ice.

Be careful driving out there folks!

Strong winds are going to be another issue, especially in Vermont's Champlain Valley, where the terrain will channel south winds up the valley.

Winds will gust to 50 mph or a little more late today and this evening in the Champlain Valley, which would cause scattered power failures and bring down some branches and trees.

Waves on still mostly unfrozen Lake Champlain could reach as high as seven feet tall. Luckily, lake levels are low, so I don't expect too much damage from the waves on exposed shores.

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