Friday, March 17, 2017

A Few More Random Thoughts On That Big March Snow

As of dawn today, I was pretty much dug out from  the
27 inches of snow that landed on my St. Albans, Vermont
house this week.
I hope you're not too sore from all that snow shoveling after, as we've noted one of the most intense snowstorms in Vermont, New York and Quebec history. 

Snow continued to pile up along the western slopes of the Green Mountains into Thursday morning, leaving a whopping storm total of 58 inches at the Bolton Valley Ski Area. That's almost five feet!

Other random thoughts:


Although this snow isn't fully going away any time soon, the March sun is our friend, at least if you want to see some of the snow disappear.

It's going to stay cold, with temperatures staying below freezing today. It'll remain colder than normal with temperatures barely above freezing Saturday through Tuesday afternoons before another bitter Arctic blast arrives next Wednesday. (Sigh.)

But the sun is getting stronger this time of year, and you'll see some of the snow banks retreated bit by bit as the sun melts parts of them. Sunny corners where the heat collects will get some melting, too. And the snow will keep settling, so it won't seem so deep.

The sun will melt the snow more effectively than it would have in January, despite the lingering winter chill.

The bottom line: The skiers can keep enjoying their powder for awhile, but we valley dwellers will see a little bit of the snow disappear over the next few days, even if much of it remains.


Forecasters for now have dropped the idea of a substantial snowfall this weekend in Vermont, but I'm not convinced we're completely in the clear

We definitely won't get another tremendous snow, but southern parts of Vermont, and southern and eastern parts of New England, for that matter, still face the chance of more snow as a nor'easter begins to crank off the coast.

Without going into details, the weather setup is incredibly complicated this weekend - more complicated than the weather leading up to the last big storm.  The best chance of escaping the weekend with absolutely no snow is northern areas.

Southern Vermont still could be in play for a couple more inches by Sunday morning. We'll see.


The big story from our neighbors in Quebec was the havoc the storm played in Montreal and other towns.

Montreal got close to a foot and a half of snow. One of the worst incidents occured on Highway 13, when 300 cars got stuck overnight in the storm. The people in the cars were cold, for sure, but luckily, none to them were seriously injured.

It turns out two selfish truckers are largely to blame for that mess and might face criminal charges, says the Montreal Gazette.

Two trucks got stuck, and tow trucks arrived to get them out of the way. But the truck drivers refused to cooperate, saying they didn't want to be responsible for the cost of the towing. All those cars got stuck behind them, and the chaos ensued.

There's also lots of recriminations over why the highway wasn't shut down sooner, why police didn't force the truck drivers to get towed, and especially why it took from evening until about 4:30 the next morning to evacuate all those people stranded in cars, reports the Montreal Gazette.

Sounds like a lot of people screwed up with this one.


With all this snow on the ground, a few people are probably asking: Are we at risk for spring flooding?

The answer is, we're a little bit more at risk than we were a week ago, but I definitely wouldn't panic.

Spring flooding in Vermont usually comes when ice breaks up in rivers, or heavy rain falls on warm days on a melting snow pack.

As in any season, we'll get flooding if we get a sharp warmup with lots of rain. But if there's a nice orderly freeze/thaw cycle, then don't worry.

Some people might remember March, 2011 when we got a snowstorm almost as big as the one we just had this week.

Frequent, damaging flooding occurred that spring, and Lake Champlain rose to record heights, causing lots of destruction on the shoreline.

The difference is, in 2011, there was already a lot of snow on the ground with a high water content in the mountains even before that snowstorm hit.

Then, we had record amounts of rainfall in April and May. Inevitably, we had a lot of flooding.

There's not nearly as much water locked up in mountain snows this March as in 2011. And I sincerely doubt we'll break rainfall records this spring, though I suppose anything is possible.

My advice? Don't worry unless the weather changes in a way that favors high water.

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