Winter storm slams region
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | December 28,2012
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Skiers from Massachusetts push their vehicle out of a snowbank on a road leading to Stratton Resort late Thursday evening.
Vermonters had to dust off their snowplows and shovels Thursday when the storm that gave them the first real taste of winter in close to two years dumped double-figure inches of snow.
Rutland resident Julie Fox said she enjoyed going out to shovel the snow that accumulated in front of her house by the afternoon. She said it gave her an excuse to get some fresh air and exercise after putting away Christmas decorations.
“Last year I didn’t shovel once,” Fox said Thursday afternoon as snow continued to fall steadily in the city. “Last year it was like an extended fall.”
It has been 658 days — since March 2011 — since Vermonters had more than 6 inches of snowfall from one storm. The storm began in southern Vermont and moved across the state before morning. The storm should be off the Gulf of Maine today.
“It’s pretty moderate to heavy snowfall,” said forecaster Brooke Taber with the National Weather Service in Burlington midafternoon Thursday. “It’s going as expected.”
At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, snow accumulation in Rutland City reached 6.5 inches and Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport reported 13 inches. In other areas it reached double digits. Danby reported 10.6 inches while Killington Ski Resort reported 15 inches. In other places, Salisbury had 13 inches, Waterbury 16.5 inches, and Chester had 10 inches.
Taber said the numbers were pretty close to what they expected. He said the snow was expected to taper off Thursday night with some snow showers and flurries expected today.
Even before the brunt of Thursday’s storm hit with full force, local hardware stores reported a spike in business. LaValley Building Supply on Route 7 in Rutland was doing a brisk business in shovels, rock salt and sand.
“We’re still in good shape on the roof rakes and the snow melt,” said store manager Pat St. Lawrence.
With the storm keeping people off the road, customers who braved the weather and the road conditions were shopping for items they couldn’t do without.
“The few people who have come in are buying shovels and salt and sand and all that kind of stuff,” said David Dutton, who manages the Aubuchon Hardware store on South Main Street in Rutland.
Large storms can often mean a rush on rock salt, shovels and even snow blowers. But with last season’s below average snow fall stores had more than enough inventory left over to meet demand.
At the Home Depot on Route 4, operations manager Jenny Bates said the store was fully stocked. She said the store sold a number of snow blowers the day before the storm.
Bates said the snow blowers “are lined up like soldiers, assembled, ready to go.” She said prices range from $99 for a power shovel to more than $1,000 for one with all the bells and whistles.
Snow removal equipment wasn’t the only items moving out the door.
“We have sold quite a few wood pellets ... people are stocking up on those to keep warm,” Dutton said.
Across the state, road conditions were jeopardized by the consistent snow fall. Larry Dodge, a spokesman for the state Agency of Transportation Operations Center, said although all roads were open during the day, limited visibility caused many delays.
“A lot of slide offs,” said Dodge in the afternoon on Thursday. “Nothing major. Nothing that is closing roads.”
In Bennington, Lt. Lloyd Dean of the Bennington Police Department said there were no major problems by midafternoon. Dean said since late Wednesday night there had only been three cars off the road and two crashes. None of the incidents involved any serious injuries.
“A lot of people are staying home and they’re driving much safer with this snowfall than they did Dec. 22 (when) there were nine crashes on the dayshift during a several hour period. People are now heeding the warnings and not driving and driving slower,” Dean said.
Elsewhere Vermont State Police reported several vehicles off the road including a crash on Howe Hill Road in Sharon where a woman’s vehicle slid into a snow bank and hit a tree.
Dorcas Freeman of Woodstock said she felt her car being pulled into a snow bank after she drove too close to the road edge, according to police.
Rutland City Public Works Commissioner Evan Pilachowski said the roads in the city were not good and that car traffic impeded them from clearing the roads as quickly as they wanted.
Earlier in the day Thursday, he asked local residents to not park on the roads if they could or to not drive at all because it would be easier to clear the roads.
“It’s snowing harder than we can get ahead of it,” said Pilachowski on Thursday afternoon. “Its pretty bad out there.”
He said they prepared an overnight plowing crew after the storm tapered off to clear the roads for today’s morning commute.
Air travel was also impacted by the storm as all commercial flights into and out of the Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport were canceled Thursday, said airport manager Dave Carman.
Carman said Cape Air hopes to resume its three daily flights to Boston this morning.
He said the daily inbound UPS flight arrived Thursday morning. However, Carman said he was unsure whether the evening UPS flight would take off.
The airport remained open Thursday, but he said poor visibility is a factor, even with the airport’s new instrument landing system.
Although the snow storm brought with it a lot of headaches of having to plow and clear streets and sidewalks, for others it was an opportunity to hit the slopes.
Sherry Morse and her 10-year-old son Declan of Westford, Mass., decided to take several trips down the hill behind the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church off of Woodstock Ave.nue
“We have not had any snow yet,” Morse said. “We came (Wednesday) to make sure we made it before the storm.”
Herald reporters Bruce Edwards and Patrick McArdle contributed to this article.