Harsh cold and snowfall forecasted for region

BRATTLEBORO -- A two-part weather system is forecast to bring in snow with severe cold following behind it, later this week.

AccuWeather Meteorologist Mark Paquette told the Reformer that there is 6 to 10 inches of snow forecasted throughout the end of the week.

On Wednesday, it should be partly sunny but cold with a high of 24 degrees. There shouldn't be any weather-related delays in traveling for the holiday.

During the night is when the trouble should start, Paquette says. That is when snow is forecast to come east to west toward dawn.

"Thursday is the snowy day," Paquette added. "It's cold with snow all day accumulating right through Thursday night. Snow will wind down on Friday."

He believes the time period that is likely to have the most snowfall is Thursday from the afternoon until midnight.

The snow will not be heavy but the dry and fluffy kind. It could cover roads enough to cause troubles and delays for travel plans.

"You've seen worse and probably will see worse this winter," said Paquette. "But the cold is going to be brutal."

AccuWeather expects a low of 1 degree below zero on Thursday with not much recovery in temperatures on Friday when a high of 6 degrees is forecast. It will be brutal to be outside on Friday, Paquette told the Reformer.

Saturday has a high temperature of 13 degrees and at night a low of zero.

"By the time you wake up on Saturday morning, it should be 16 below zero," said Paquette. "All these time periods are accompanied by wind so it will feel even colder."

It is expected that temperatures will reach up to 30 degrees on Sunday.

On Tuesday afternoon, Brattleboro Department of Public Works Director Steve Barrett said his staff had already begun to prepare for the storm after hearing reports that the region could receive significant amounts of snow.

"Different models are showing different forecasts," he added. "One thing looks certain: We're going to get 6 plus inches, plus we're going to get some cold weather."

Generally, the DPW spends time conducting maintenance work on its snow equipment, which includes trucks, snow blowers, graders and other specialized equipment. Repairs are also completed before a storm.

During the last storm, the two town-owned graders were damaged and out of service. Those are currently back to 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 told the Reformer. 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.

If there is a call to a particular section of town that needs plowing or salt, the DPW makes sure first responders can get to where they're going.

In the event of a storm warning, there is one member of the DPW who is on call. Police monitor the roads and will call central dispatch if road conditions begin to worsen.

"In some cases, if it's a big storm like this, that person would report to work then call another person in. Then as the storm progresses, they would call a supervisor and possibly the rest of the crew," said Barrett. "We have the equipment, we have salt and we have the manpower. We're ready to go."

On Tuesday, Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy told the Reformer that Albany and Burlington send individual warnings to the Town Offices.

"With this storm, there are two totally different forecasts," he said. "Burlington says Vermont won't be affected except the severe cold. Albany says there's a southern New England snowstorm coming.

The Albany report forecasts 3 to 6 inches of light snow in the next 24 to 48 hours. After hearing from the two sources, 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."

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 included 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 were working.

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


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