• Thunderstorms forecasted for entire week
    By Gordon Dritschilo
    Staff Writer | June 25,2013
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    Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo

    Ian Reilly of Kiernan's Property Maintenance is shown cleaning up debris on Washington Street caused by Sunday afternoon's storm.
    Green Mountain Power cleaned up from one storm as it braced for another Monday.

    In fact, the utility and local weather forecasters said the region could be looking at an entire week of storms.

    “The forecast is, there are thunderstorms every day with the potential for outages,” GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said Monday.

    At midday, Schnure said crews had gotten the number of outages from Sunday’s storm down to 60 before it jumped back up to about 150 from new problems. Anticipating even more, Schnure said the utility had contract crews on standby and had put together a schedule to keep crews from getting overworked in case of a marathon restoration effort.

    “We’ll do our best to get out there and respond as quickly as we can,” she said. “One of the advantages of serving three-quarters of the state is, when we have a problem that’s geographically targeted, like Rutland was yesterday, we can bring in resources from all over the state.”

    In the meantime, Schnure said GMP was watching the weather reports.

    “There’s some very warm and unstable air that’s in place right now,” meteorologist Steve Maleski said.

    Maleski, who works out of the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury, said Vermont was on the northern edge of a subtropical high zone, causing cool air to mix with wet, hot air with thunderous results.

    “We’re going to have a series of really wet and humid days,” he said. “While it won’t rain all the time, there’s going to be a risk of thunderstorms every day.”

    That creates an additional risk of flooding.

    “I would certainly keep my head up about that ... beginning Thursday through Friday, possibly Saturday and possibly even Sunday,” Maleski said.

    Schnure said GMP was carefully monitoring water levels at its hydro plants. She also said the utility braced for the possibility of saturated ground becoming so soft that still winds could more easily uproot trees, as it had in the 2007 Nor’icane.

    Lightning from the storm Sunday set fire to a Rutland warehouse. The incident was one of 25 to 30 calls during the storm that prompted the Rutland City Fire Department to sound a general alarm. Deputy Chief Brad LaFaso said two other structure fires during the storm were “very minor” but that the Howe Street warehouse owned by Joe Giancola took significant damage to the roof.

    “We knocked it down pretty quick,” LaFaso said. “The labor was pretty intensive, pretty extensive, because of the structure of the roof system. There was three layers of roof on it.”

    Giancola said he did not have an estimate of the damages yet, but that firefighters operating forklifts to clear access space moved a number of pallets of goods out of harms way. He said he rents space in the warehouse to a number of customers and that most of it remains intact.

    “That was only part of it,” Giancola said. “I’ve got trees down in places, it took chunks of slate off the roof in Howe Center. It was like a mini-twister.”

    Rain in the city was heavy enough that Mayor Christopher Louras again helped deploy an inflatable water barrier across the entry to the transit center. However, Louras said, somebody drove over the barrier, damaging it. The barrier is modular and large enough for the damaged section to be swapped out for an intact one, according to Louras. The driver was not apprehended.

    Up in Pittsford, the storm knocked down a massive old maple outside the Pittsford Congregational Church.

    “Half of it went down,” church trustee Chuck McCuin said. “In consideration of safety, we had the other half taken down. ... It was a big tree, I’ll tell you that. It was probably close to four feet in diameter. How tall it was, I don’t know. I was very impressed with the man who climbed it to start cutting it down.”

    McCuin said the tree did minimal damage to the landscaping.

    “If it had gone the other way, it would’ve been a disaster because a lot of power lines would have been taken out,” he said. “The hand of God moved it the right way.”

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