Sandy gives Vermont a pass

Vermont Emergency Management officials are reporting no widespread damage from Hurricane Sandy related flooding or high winds in Vermont.

Though Sandy pummeled New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia with high winds and an ongoing storm surge, as the storm traveled north into Vermont the predicted high winds didn’t materialize.

Mark Bosma, spokesman for VEM, said there were no reports of state road closures or damage to town or state buildings this morning. On Monday night, I-89 northbound and Route 2 in Bolton were closed due to a downed power line. Route 142 in Vernon closed for the same reason for a short period.

“We were very fortunate considering what we saw to south of us,” Bosma said. “We really avoided some pretty serious damage. It’s such a relief we didn’t get the worst case scenario.”

Power outages affected as many as 35,000 Green Mountain Power customers at one point Monday night. Electricity has been restored to all but 7,000 to 8,000 homes.

Scott Whittier, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Burlington, said that Sandy’s increased forward speed kept wind fields out of sync, and spared Vermont from anticipated strong winds.

The wind field “got up there to 4,000 feet, but never translated down to the surface,” said Whittier.

Whittier mentioned isolated reports of high winds, with a report of 60 mph winds from Lyndon State College and at least 53 mph winds from Rutland. But most places saw wind gusts of 35 to 45 mph, said Whittier.

“We did dodge a bullet,” he remarked. Rather than a southeasterly wind flow, as had happened in more violent storms in the 1950s, Sandy maintained a more northeasterly flow, which prevented a widespread, dangerous storm for the state.

The forecast for the next few days remains unchanged, with rain and wind expected thanks to Sandy’s lingering influence.

Whittier spent Monday tracking the weather from Waterbury’s Emergency Operations Center, where National Weather Service meteorologists are sometimes deployed to keep an ongoing pulse on major storms. The last time meteorologists were embedded there was for Irene.

Whittier said that Sandy generated a “tremendous wind field,” extending more than 500 miles in any direction from the center of the storm, a feature he found to be remarkable.

Anne Galloway

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