BRATTLEBORO -- "Welcome to winter in New England," Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark said on Monday.
While not packing the punch some forecasts called for last week -- anywhere from 3 to 5 inches was expected -- the precipitation and temperatures worked together to slicken area roads and make for a slippery start to the week.
The Windham County Sheriff's Department took to its Facebook page, Monday morning, to warn drivers that there had already been several incidents by 8 a.m. and to "please be careful in your travels," while Brattleboro Police Chief Gene Wrinn said there had been a few minor accidents before noontime.
Wrinn told the Reformer there had been reports of several cars swerving off the road and he urged everyone to take simple precautions before driving in the snow. He said it is important to have snow tires as well as quality windshield wiper blades.
"You've got to be able to see if you want to be able to drive," he said, adding that Monday presented "the first decent (storm) that is putting some challenges in front of people."
Chief Wrinn said drivers should slow down on the road, increase their stopping time and avoid driving in bad weather if at all possible.
Sheriff Clark said he knew of accidents in Westminster and Townshend, but did not believe they were serious. He said roads become more treacherous during winter storms.
Clark said that Monday morning provided nothing out of the ordinary. "And the reason I say that is because it is the first significant snowstorm of the season."
Clark said the first snowstorm of every winter typically results in accidents because many people are unprepared for the road conditions. He, like Wrinn, said all vehicles should be equipped with snow tires and good windshield wipers. The sheriff also told the Reformer people often forget what it's like to drive on slick roads and the first storm of the season is also the first for many drivers who moved to the area in the spring or summer, or who are visiting relatives in the area or got their driver's license when the weather was nicer.
"There's a required skill to driving in the winter," he said.
Clark recommends drivers give themselves more time to get from Point A to Point B and suggests staying home unless going out is necessary.
Kate O'Connor, the new executive director of the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce located on Main Street, said the undesirable weather didn't seem to hamper downtown business on Monday.
"We're located downtown and (the weather) doesn't seem to have stopped anyone from coming," she said. "We just had some people from London come in and some people from Norwich."
O'Connor encouraged all drivers and pedestrians to be careful while shopping and said local business have been making a great effort to keep sidewalks as clear as possible. She said it appears all downtown businesses are open for business and the weekend brought throngs of people to the area for holiday shopping.
Rockingham Highway Supervisor Mike Hindes told the Reformer he and his crew were fully prepared for the storm and worked Friday night into Saturday morning. He said the department's equipment, namely the loaders and graters, were ready to go. He said Monday there had been two minor accidents in Rockingham but they were due to drivers' errors.
"Today was great. Everything really went well," he said. "I'm very pleased."
Hindes said the first storm of the winter always seems to be the slipperiest, perhaps because there is no salt on the road from previous storms. He said he released his crew at 4 p.m. Monday and the workers would resume at 3 a.m. to tend to the town's gravel roads, which he said would freeze up during the night. He said it typically takes three hours to get Rockingham's roads ready for the traveling public.
There was a winter weather advisory in the Northeast on Monday morning, which National Weather Service Meteorologist Luigi Meccariello explained means there will be times when snow, sleet or freezing rain create periods of travel difficulty.
Meccariello said the storm hitting New England was a "very quick-moving event" and Windham County saw anywhere from a tenth-of-an-inch of snow to a whole inch. He forecasted the weather tonight to be in the mid-20s with passing snowstorms that diminish. He also said there is a slight chance for snow showers tomorrow.
The Global Weather Center reports snow is expected to fall throughout Tuesday and most locations will accumulate 1 to 3 inches of snow from the storm. Also, the precipitation will likely be snow for most of New England but rain for places farther south.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.