BRATTLEBORO -- The first snowstorm of 2014 presented nothing out of the ordinary for local communities.
Town officials in the area said they were well-prepared for Winter Storm Hercules, which experts say effected 100 million people in 22 states and dumped anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of snow on parts of Windham County. No major accidents have been reported, and road crews worked hard to make sure the roads stayed as safe as possible.
Brattleboro Interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland said he is extremely grateful to the road crews for staying out all night, when there is limited traffic, to clear the roads. He said the light and fluffy snow made it easier for crew workers to do their jobs.
"Overall, I think we did pretty well. It was a cold and dry snow, which is a lot easier to deal with and a lot easier on our equipment than the heavy, wet stuff," he said Friday morning. He said both of the town's graters were working properly, a luxury the town did not have during the previous storm. "It allowed us to sort of hit the ground running."
The road crews, he said, were forced to spread sand on the roads because the temperature got so cold that salt would not have effectively melted any ice or snow. He said he is not a fan of spreading sand (because it can get into the stormwater system), but it had to be done.
Rockingham Highway Supervisor Mike Hindes told the Reformer the storm passed through with no big issues, though a couple of hydraulic hoses had to be fixed.
"It's the kind of storm we like ... light and fluffy. It's easier to move and easier to plow," he said Friday morning. "No complaints here. It was a nice, quiet storm. I'll take it."
He said his department took all the same precautions it normally does in terms of preventative maintenance. He said his workers always have to make sure all the department's lights and vehicles are in working order and it is important to have plenty of sand and salt at the ready. Hindes said the 6 to 8 inches of snow that fell in Rockingham have made roads slippery, though he would not call them dangerous.
"They're not treacherous by any means," he said.
Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy said no news is good news in regards to not hearing from Road Supervisor Bill Hunt.
"It's just another storm for us. We're actually in decent shape," he said, adding that the town got a foot of snow. "We were preparing for a little bit more stronger snow. This is a dry, fluffy type of snow."
Murphy said his biggest concern now is for those with inadequate housing, disabilities or insufficient heating funds. He said there are plenty of people in his town who cannot physically shovel their property or whose vehicles likely will not start in the cold temperatures.
He said Friday morning he noticed many vehicles going through town, likely on ski trips.
"I'm sure the mountains will be busy, but local people are really just trying to survive to get through the winter," Murphy said.
The Snow & Ice Management Association, a North American trade organization, has offered a few tips to help people stay safe if driving in the snow is necessary. SIMA recommends checking the weather reports before hitting the road. If it has already started to rain, sleet or snow, listen to the news to hear about your local road conditions before leaving your home. If the roads are hazardous, consider staying inside.
SIMA suggests making a to-do list. You may need to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy or the hardware store -- but that trip to the dry cleaners can wait. Try to do these errands during the day and avoid going out at night. Another pointer is to be prepared for a storm by making sure you have an ice scraper or snow brush in your vehicle, a full tank of gas, good tire pressure, a healthy battery and clean oil. It is also wise to make sure your cell phone is fully charged before leaving home.
SIMA also recommends keeping a safe distance away from snow removal equipment and slowing down on snowy or icy roads.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.