Storm drops up to 30 inches on region
By Josh BASSETT
Correspondent | February 15,2014
Albert J. Marro / Staff Photos
Above, Phil Musch shovels his car out of a snow bank on Lafayette Street in Rutland on Friday morning. Below, a state truck plows Route 4 in West Rutland.
The biggest storm of the winter so far slammed Rutland County and southern Vermont with as much as 30 inches of fresh snow Thursday night and Friday.
The storm forced tens of thousands of residents to dig out their homes and vehicles, and left one man dead in an accident on Interstate 91.
The man, Robert Trombley, 45, of Lee, Mass., was killed when he got out of his tractor-trailer truck after it struck the guardrails on I-91 in Fairlee around 10 a.m. Friday, according to Vermont State Police.
The truck was stopped in the middle of the highway, blocking both lanes, when a car driven by Michael Phillips, 56, of Groveton, N.H., crashed into Trombley and the truck in whiteout conditions, police said. A third vehicle hit the truck shortly after. Trombley was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchock Medical Center with extensive injuries and was pronounced dead.
The snow caused other traffic problems around the state, including a 12-car pileup on Interstate 89 in Bolton, and the closure of Routes 11 and 30 in Winhall due to trucks getting stuck trying to climb a hill.
Most Vermont schools were closed Friday. State offices opened late at 10 a.m. and sent workers home at 3 p.m. It was not unusual to see a sign in a store window saying the business was taking a snow day.
The snow fell hardest in the early morning hours, with many sources estimating as much as three inches an hour at its peak.
The snow piled up so fast that Mayor Christopher Louras banned parking in Rutland’s downtown to let crews catch up with snow removal.
Two city plow trucks broke down in the night, slowing the cleanup effort.
The ban was lifted at 4 p.m. but reinstated at midnight, and will remain in effect downtown until the early afternoon today to allow for snow removal.
The high amount of snow made it difficult to travel, especially early Friday morning when many were leaving for work.
Rutland did not receive as much snow as many parts of southern Vermont. City police Lt. Kevin Geno said that the even though the road conditions were bad, it had not caused a spike in accidents.
“It hasn’t been bad, only a few accidents,” he said.
Geno added that police received a call to take a doctor to Rutland Regional Medical Center to deliver a baby.
“We got him there and that was a good thing.”
A spokeswoman at the hospital said the hospital’s emergency room had treated 42 patients as of 3:30 p.m., down from the average of about 90 on most days.
The most snow in the Rutland area was 30 inches in Mount Holly. Other towns such as Pittsford and West Rutland only got about 13 inches, said Andy Nash, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
“A decent winter storm for Vermont standards,” he said. “I don’t think it’s anywhere near the top 10 (in history), especially not for this particular day.”
Center Street in Rutland was littered with people Friday morning, shoveling to clear out the snow from the sidewalks and in front of businesses.
Some actually enjoyed all the snow from the night before.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Reubin Muzychko, who works at the Yellow Deli, laughing. “Weather like this makes you appreciate summer.”
Others seemed to share that feeling.
Cole Wilbur and Cam Hurst, who work for Earth, Waste and Metal on Wales Street, said they were actually having fun shoveling parts of the Rutland Shopping Plaza.
“It’s actually our first day,” said Hurst.
While many were digging out, others had to get behind the wheel Friday morning, bad road conditions and all.
“They were pretty harsh this morning ... luckily we’re all trained professionals so we know how to handle snow,” said Amy Sass, a driver for The Bus.
Staff writer Eric Blaisdell and the Associated Press contributed to this report.