'Frigid arctic air' with snowfall forecasted


BRATTLEBORO -- Grab your shovels and warm clothing. It's going to be a cold few days.

Meteorologists are expecting a prolonged snow event that will start late Wednesday night or Thursday morning and go until Friday morning.

The heaviest snowfall is likely to occur between Thursday morning and Thursday night.

"Once the storm pulls away, a frigid arctic air comes in," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Erik Pindrock. "It will be windy later Thursday and into Friday. It's going to feel just brutal out there I think."

By the time Friday comes around, there could be 6 to 10 inches of snow on the ground in different towns in the region.

When asked about the coming storm, Jamaica Selectboard Chairwoman Lexa Clark recalled a comment made about five or six years ago.

"Someone asked, 'What's going to happen with the storm?' And they said, 'We'll let you know when it's over," she said. "That's a good attitude to have so no one gets upset."

On Wednesday afternoon, with snow flurrying in Jamaica and other parts of Windham County, Clark told the Reformer that the Highway Department was always ready and had a plan ahead of a storm. She said the department foreman constantly watches the weather forecasts to take the necessary steps to be ready for anything.

According to a Brattleboro Fire Department press release, the National Weather Service was calling "life threatening" wind chills for its Thursday forecast. When the temperature reaches single digits or below negative, the fire department advised residents to follow safety tips which include dressing appropriately for the weather, using extreme caution when using alternative heating sources, leaving a faucet cracked open if pipes have a tendency to freeze and making sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.

Pindrock told the Reformer that cold air would be coming in Thursday with the snow. The high for Thursday is 14 degrees while the low is 1 below zero.

For Friday, he said the high will only get to about 6 degrees. The low is 19 below zero.

"Friday night could be the coldest night we've seen this year," said Pindrock. "Starting Thursday, but especially Thursday night into the day on Friday, it's going to be windy."

The wind chill values are expected to be well below zero during this time. The snow will not be heavy, but the dry and fluffy kind. It could cover roads enough to cause problems and delays for travel.

"In terms of temperatures, I think these are some of the coldest temperatures of the season," said Pindrock. "In terms of snowfall, we've already had some decent sized snow events on the order of 6 to 12 inches. 6 to 10 is certainly going to be disruptive. I don't think it's anything out of the ordinary for anything we get in January in the Brattleboro area."

Starting on Tuesday, Brattleboro Department of Public Works employees had begun to prepare for the storm after hearing weather reports calling for significant amounts of snow.

"Different models are showing different forecasts," said DPW Director Steve Barrett. "One thing looks certain: We're going to get 6 plus inches, plus we're going to get some cold weather."

Any repairs and maintenance work is conducted prior to a storm. During the last storm event, two graders were damaged and out of service. By Tuesday, the equipment was back in working order.

"In a normal storm event, we suffer damages to equipment or plows," said Barrett. "We pretty much have the fleet back in service. We're in good shape."

The graders plow the main roads, such as Canal Street, Main Street and Western Avenue, he explained. After that, the graders will work on the country roads.

"We have about 36 miles of gravel roads. It's important to open those roads out in the country," Barrett continued.

The DPW works closely with the Brattleboro Police Department as well as the Fire Department. Service roads are maintained to ensure emergency services can make it to calls.

At the Wilmington Town Offices, officials receive individual storm warnings from Albany and Burlington.

On Tuesday, Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy told the Reformer that with this storm, there had been two different forecasts. The one in Burlington said Vermont wouldn't be affected except with severe cold.

"Albany says there's a southern New England snowstorm coming," Murphy said.

After hearing the forecast, Murphy spoke with Wilmington Highway Department Foreman Bill Hunt.

"The guys have been busy with the last storm, where the snow turned to ice," said Murphy. "They're getting some rest and getting ready to come out starting Wednesday evening, then go from there depending on how bad we get it."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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