Tuesday, January 10, 2017

High Winds Causing Problems Across The Nation, Including Vermont

Downed trees smush cars in Colorado Springs Monday.
Strong, possibly damaging winds are forecast in Vermont's
Champlain Valley tonight. Photo here by Ryan Hannigan/
Colorado Springs Independent
One thing I've noticed about the parade of storms that have been marching across the nation from California to New England since late November is the wind.

There have been lots of damaging wind episodes with these strong storms, and that seems to be continuing.

Here in Vermont, we're in for another damaging wind episode in parts of the state later today and tonight. More on that in a minute.

But first, let's take a look at problems elsewhere in the nation that past couple of days.


At least one of the deaths associated with the storms in the past few days out on the West Coast was wind related: A tree fell on a woman in California.

And I discussed yesterday that sad story of the giant Sequoia with the tunnel in its trunk that succumbed to the wind in California.

Winds screamed through the peaks of the Sierra Nevada Sunday night at speeds of up to a whopping 173 mph.

The wind spread into Colorado Monday. Downslope winds caused havoc in many Colorado communities, including Colorado Springs, where winds  gusted to 78 mph.

The Colorado Springs Independent said police were telling people not to drive Monday because of debris in the roads, and many traffic signals were twisted around by the wind and/or not functioning.

Many tractor trailer trucks traveling on those areas toppled in the wind.

In Colorado Springs, a large section of roof blew off the Terry R. Harns Judicial Complex, which understandably forced an evacuation of the building and the cancellation of court hearings, said the Colorado Springs Independent. Streets in the area were closed because of flying roof debris.

This was a really serious storm!

It wasn't the worst wind storm in Colorado history, but it was intense. "The magnitude was way up there," Steve Hodanish, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo told the Colorado Springs Gazette.

(Side note: I was a meteorology student with Hodanish at Lyndon State College in Vermont in the early 1980s Great guy. Hi Steve!)


Strong, possibly damaging winds will affect parts of Vermont later this afternoon and especially tonight, especially near Lake Champlain.

This storm is very similar to the one on December 26, which caused some damage in the Champlain Valley. Winds were clocked as high as 61 mph in South Hero. However, tonight's wind might be a little more intense than on December 26.

A high wind warning is up for the northern Champlain Valley, including Burlington, St. Albans and the islands. Winds could easily gust to 60 mph or a little above in these areas.

During the December 26 storm, the wind and waves were strong enough to prompt Lake Champlain Transportation to suspend ferry service between Grand Isle, Vermont and Cumberland Head, New York.

I suspect the same might happen later today, so plan accordingly.

The wind is being caused by a strong and strenghtening storm moving northeastward through the Great Lakes. It'll also produce some snow and mixed precipitation in Vermont this afternoon and tonight, but the wind will be the main story

The wind won't be quite as strong in the rest of Vermont as it will be in the Champlain Valley but still, scattered power failures might happen in western Vermont away from the lake as winds gust to 45 to 50 mph tonight.

It looks like the wind will peak in intensity somewhere between 8 p.m. and midnight tonight, then gradually subside.

If I were you in the Champlain Valley, I'd make sure the flashlights have batteries and everything is charged up.

Wednesday will be mild and cloudy as the storm moves off into Canada. Another warm, but weaker storm will come through Thursday with unwelcome rain, but less wind. It'll then briefly turn seasonably cold this weekend.

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