Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dangerous Ice Here In Vermont This Morning

Quite a bit of ice on the trees already as dawn broke outside
my St. Albans, Vermont house this morning. 
UPDATE: 8:30 AM.:

At least for now, freezing rain has changed to snow in much of Vermont as colder air aloft is working into the storm system.

This isn't exactly helping, since the snow on top of the ice if anything makes the ice more slippery.

And this is wet snow. It'll pile up on top of already ice-encrusted trees and power lines, causing even more power failures and damage.

The number of power failures in Vermont as of 8:30 a.m. has ticked up to about 2,100.

Expect wet snow, maybe mixed with sleet and freezing rain and rain at times, to continue this morning off and on.

But it will continue to become lighter and lighter in intensity as we go through the morning. It will even come to a complete stop at times. The very heaviest precipitation is over, or will be ending soon.

Still, we'll get light periods of mixed precipitation well into this evening.


I awoke this morning in St. Albans, Vermont to a pounding rain. Freezing rain, to be exact.

Everything is covered in ice. Trees are sagging under the weight of the freeze. Not good.

We knew there would be an ugly mix of precipitation in Vermont today, but it was unclear what would predominate.  It turns out freezing rain is the main story.

In many if not most areas of the state, it turns out to be a dangerous freezing rain. Although some areas still have sleet and snow mixing in.

Some areas of northern Vermont received two to three inches of snow overnight in addition to the ice.  Other areas, like the Champlain Valley, have received mostly freezing rain.

There was already about a quarter inch of ice on the trees and all other surfaces outside my house in St. Albans, Vermont. That's nearing the threshhold at which branches and power lines start to fail.

Given the complicated, near 32 degree temperature through a fairly thick layer of the atmosphere over Vermont today, expect unexpected switches to sleet and snow, then maybe back to freezing rain at random times today, too.

I notice Burlington had several hours of freezing rain, then switched to snow, at least for a time, around 7:30 a.m

The bottom line: No matter what happens to be falling from the sky at the moment, don't travel this morning if you don't have to. If you must, take it slow and easy. The roads are absolutely terrible. Even where they salted the hell out of them, the rain washed the salt off, then the roads re-freeze.

By the way, pretty much every school in Vermont is closed because of the weather, so don't bother to take your kids in this morning. Several businesses are closed, too.

It's dangerous underfoot, too. I could barely walk across the driveway and lawn when I took the dogs out for their morning business. One of my dogs slipped and fell. (Jackson is fine.)

As of 7 a.m., about 1,400 homes and businesses were without power in Vermont, according to Vermont Outage Map. I expect that number to rise.

On the bright side, this won't turn out to be nearly as bad as the epic ice storm of 1998, or even the nasty Christmas week ice storm of 2013.

The heaviest precipitation will have ended, I think, before there's any real widespread, extensive damage to trees and power lines. Still, expect some broken lines and fallen branches today.

The mixed precipitation, mostly freezing rain, will continue in Vermont at least through the rest of this morning. In a few valley locations, there will be a break in which temperatures sneak a little above freezing, and ice will change to rain for a time.

That might allow some of the weight of the ice on trees and power lines could diminish a bit,  and some of the ice would melt off the roads, which is a good thing.

Things will refreeze tonight, with scattered light freezing rain, sleet and snow likely. Precipitation won't be nearly as heavy later today as it is this morning, so it'll be a little better by then. Not much, though.

Unfortunately, the ice that's now underfoot will pretty much stay there. It might get above freezing for a few hours Wednesday and possibly Thursday afternoon, but maybe not long enough to melt all the ice.

I'm sure the emergency room at hospitals will be busy over the next few days from people falling on the ice.

Kinda depresssing, but it is winter in Vermont.

1 comment:

  1. So glad Jackson is OK :)

    Keep up the great work, Matt, I really enjoy your posts.

    -Tim Patterson