People & Places

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.

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Anne Galloway

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  • rosemarie jackowski

    It will be a disaster if this gives Vermont a false sense of security. There will be other storms to come in the future. We are not prepared. Not everyone has a computer or cell phone. Communication during Irene was worse than during WW2. At least then we had sirens.

    Bennington needs to have Electric company repair vehicles closer. Having all of them in Sunderland is NOT the answer, especially during the winter. That puts thousands at risk. Remember, in Vermont it gets cold and not everyone can afford alternative sources of heat or a hard wired generator estimated to cost more than $5000.

    During a winter crisis could VT Emergency Mgt have a supply of generators that would be rented to home owners? What’s the answer????? Red Cross says it will have hot coffee during a disaster, but there is not enough hot coffee to keep pipes from freezing.

    Now is the time to prepare for the next one,and I guarantee there WILL be a next one.

  • Brent Jarvis

    Nice explanation as to why your forecast was completely wrong. Why is there such hysteria from NWS forecasting..80 MPH Vermont, when the hurricane itself has 75 MPH winds 400 miles away? “The Weather Channel” had the most accurate forecast..Wind gusts of NEAR 50 MPH..
    Another example..this past summer, tornado watches were issued on two occasions..Tornadoes??? Vermont has NEVER had a real tornado, Midwestern style..Sure, an occasional small twister setting down for a couple of minutes, but that’s it..Why always the worst case scenario? Average the worst case with the best case and cool heads should prevail…

  • rosemarie jackowski

    We need land line phones and electric wires buried underground. Snow, wind, trees, wires on poles – a perfect recipe for disaster.

    …and cell phones are not the answer during an emergency.

  • Jane Stein

    Cell phones and computers are absolutely not what you need in a big weather event. One of my family members lives on the Jersey shore and went to a shelter for the storm. When it hit, it took out the cell and wifi networks right away. Power is of course out and won’t be back for days or even a week.

    The one thing that came through the storm is the landline, both at the shelter and at her home.