Brattleboro area prepares for 'a wintry mess'

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BRATTLEBORO — Towns are gearing up as a winter advisory goes into effect.

"Our crews have been pretty busy today," Brattleboro Department of Public Works Director Steve Barrett said Monday afternoon. "They're putting all the chains on the snowplow equipment, basically getting all the equipment prepared for the upcoming storm."

Dave Samuhel, a meteorologist for Accuweather.com, said "a wintry mess" is heading to the Brattleboro area.

"It's coming so get ready," he said. "It's been very cold out there today (Monday) with temperatures struggling to go anywhere. We've seen temperatures hovering in the 20s all day. That's really key to the storm. All sorts of moisture is coming at us from the Gulf of Mexico."

Samuhel said to expect every type of precipitation as snow is likely to begin falling around midnight with a mix of sleet coming later on Tuesday morning. The forecast is calling for two to four inches of snow and sleet, but also freezing rain Tuesday afternoon as temperatures reach 33 to 34 degrees.

Rain along with a cold front looks possible in another storm system coming Wednesday.

"We're going to go into a typical January pattern but mostly a dry pattern at the end of the week into the weekend," said Samuhel. "Finally, a taste of winter."

He said ski resorts will get some cover then they will be able to make more snow with the cold temperatures.

This will mark the first significant winter storm for Brattleboro, meaning there will be challenges that Barrett associates with the first of the season.

"We all need to revisit winter driving habits, which is always important," he said. "After the first storm, we usually have more vehicles off the road. People wait to get snow tires."

Last winter brought about a foot of snow to the area by this time after multiple storms in November and December.

"This is pretty unusual," Barrett said. "We haven't really had any storm events here in Brattleboro. We have seen them in the upper elevations but we haven't had any at all."

By not having to remove snow and lay salt on the roads, the lack of wintry weather has been positive in terms of cost. Barrett said storms like last year's can be rough on equipment. Money spent on maintenance adds up quickly.

Barrett advises against putting snow from driveways or sidewalks into the roadways. He said that's prohibited by ordinances and dangerous for travelers. Also, fire hydrants should be kept free and clear of snow.

Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy told the Reformer the Highway Department has been ready for months.

"Actually, I think they're getting itchy to plow," he said. "So we're ready and hoping for all snow. Ice is not welcome."

A refurbishment project underway at the Wilmington Wastewater Treatment Plant has not had to stop yet. The contractor is planning to work through the winter, according to plant chief operator John Lazelle.

"Obviously, there will be days like tomorrow where not much can be done," he said Monday. "But they are planning on being on site."

So far, cement for the new primary treatment building foundation and its floor was poured. The walls are ready to be built. A new piece of equipment related to the primary treatment process arrived on site. All the process piping work is completed and a new waterline was constructed. The office/lab building's south wall, also a retaining wall, was poured. Electrical and mechanical piping for the office/lab floor was installed. Some of the underground electric conduit was installed while the control building remodeling construction has begun.

"We are a little behind on the office/lab building, but ahead of schedule on the primary treatment building," said Lazelle, who regularly posts photographs and updates on facebook.com/Wilmington-VT-Wastewater-Treatment-Plant-134490187249.

Green Mountain Power announced it would be preparing to restore power if the predicted storm were to start causing outages Tuesday morning. The company said crews were especially focused on areas near Middlebury and Rutland that could be "hard hit" according to forecasts.

Green Mountain Power spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said the wintery mix of snow, sleet, freezing rain and gusty winds has the potential to bring trees onto power lines while slippery roads can cause vehicles to hit poles.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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