Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Review: Heat And Storms Were Pretty Extreme In Vermont, New England This Week

Microburst winds of up to 100 mph shredded this camp
in West Addison, Vermont during severe storms Thursday
Image from television station WCAX in Burlington.
(Editor's Note:) I'm travelling this week, so blog posts might on occasion be a little spottier, and at times a little less frequent than normal, but keep checking, as I will be making every attempt to post frequently.)

Anyway, back to the weather.

And what a weather week! Record heat, and more important, the heat was broken by some exceptionally powerful, if brief thunderstorms.

 And yet, over eastern sectons of Vermont and New England, the heat returned Friday, even as it became chilly from the Champlain Valley westward.

Here are the details to recap:

We got going on Wednesday, with record warmth across all of Vermont and much of the Northeast, as noted in the previous post Thursday morning.

Then Thursday came. In Burlington, Vermont the temperature reached 93 degrees, tying the all time high temperature for any day in May since records got going in the 1880s.

This makes two of the five first months of the year tying or breaking monthly record highs in Burlington. (The previous February all time maximum of 63 degrees was shattered by a reading of 72 degrees this year.)

By the way, the low temperature in Burlington Thursday was 70 degrees. That set a record for the highest low tempeature for that date. (May 18.)  The old record was 63 degrees.

Elsewhere, record highs were broken by several degrees. Boston reached 95 degrees, beating the old record by five degrees. Hartford, Connecticut got to 96 degrees, beating the old record of 90.

Way up in the northern tip of Maine, Caribou got up to 90 degrees, the first time it's reached that level there since July, 2014.
As I was preparing to leave my St. Albans home for a trip
amid hot Thursday evening weather, I spotted this
strong storm abruptly take shape northeast of town. 

The even bigger story was the brief, but violent thunderstorms that erupted late Thursday afternoon. At that time, a cold front was still well to our west, but what's known as a pre'frontal trough came in.

These pre-frontal troughs are fairly common well ahead of a cold front during hot spells, and, if timed to come through in the afternoon or evening, often create severe thunderstorms. That's because these troughs add lift to the atmosphere already made volatile by heat.

Almost always, pre-frontal trough severe thunderstorms are hit and miss.  Some places get nailed, others stay in the sunshine.

But the people that get nailed really get hammered. In West Addison, a National Weather Storm survey team on Friday looked at the damage from Thursday's storm to see whether it was a tornado or straight line winds.

No tornado, it turns out, but it was as bad as one. A microburst, which is a blast of air from a severe thunderstorm that plunges to the ground that blows violently in a narrow path once it hits the ground, caused the havoc in West Addison.

In West Addison, the microburst landed just offshore in Lake Champlain and zoomed eastward onshore. It cut down a bunch of trees and hit a house, partially lifting off its roof and largely collapsing the structure. The house was destroyed, the National Weather Service said, by micoburst winds of up to 100 mph.

An occupant inside the house was slightly injured.  WCAX-TV reported the situation could have been even worse. The television station said the hosue was actually a camp that had been blown off its foundation and flipped upside down.  Linda Taft, 75,  and her dog were inside at the time.

As the house flipped over the couch she had been sitting on with the dog got tossed around, and she grabbed a pillow to cover her face as she tried to protect the dog.

Neighbors who rushed to help found the woman on the ceiling with the dog, and luckily both were n good spirits.

According to WCAX, one of the neighbors who rescued Taft quoted her as saying as she was being rescued, "I only had two glasses of wine tonight and I never got my third."

Taft was taken to the hospital to be checked out, but she's fine. Just bruised. She said she plans to rebuild the camp.

In Addison and elsewhere, large, wind driven hail blew out windows and dented cars. In Barton, fallen trees blocked the path of a train, and a tractor trailer was blown over. Statewide, 15,000 people or so lost electricity.

Measured wind gusts included 68 mph in Wells, Vermont and 58 mph at the National Weather Service offices in South Burlington.

By mid morning Friday, the cold front had moved into the Champlain Valley, but not yet further east. At mid-morning it was down to 50 degrees in Highgate. Meanwhile, eastern and southern areas got hot again quickly.

St. Johnsbury in eastern Vermont reached 91 degrees Friday for a new record high. On Friday, Boston and Hartford reached 90 degrees for the third day in a row.

In Atlantic Canada, places like Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, which are coming off an unusually harsh winter, had record highs that got as far as 90 degrees on Friday.

Now, the weather has reversed again, and I really, really hope you didn't think the hot spell made it safe to put your tomatoes and peppers out.

There's areas of frost this morning. Tonight, frost advisories have been posted for the Adirondacks, north-central and northeast Vermont, and parts of New Hampshire and Maine. A section of far northern New Hampshire and western Maine are under more dire freeeze warnings. 

After tonight, the weather is certainly going to remain changeable for the foreseeable future, but not nearly as wild as it has been this week.

Here's a video from Roger Hill of one of the storms rolling into North Montpelier, Vermont

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