Winter storm warning includes dangerous mix of snow, sleet, ice — 'travel could be impossible'

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A winter storm warning that includes snow, sleet and ice has been issued for Bennington and Windham counties until Tuesday afternoon.
 
A double-barreled storm threat prompted the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., to issue the warning, in effect from 5 p.m. Sunday until 1 p.m. Tuesday. Heavy mixed precipitation is expected for a total snow and sleet accumulation of 1 to 4 inches and ice accumulations of a
quarter to a half of an inch, the forecasters cautioned. 
 
With southeast winds likely to gust up to 35 mph, damage to frost-coated utility lines and trees is a major concern, forecasters stated, leading to potentially widespread power failures and possible impacts on cable, internet and phone service.
 
The warning covers southern Vermont and upstate New York north of Albany.
 
 
The first storm, from the Midwest and Great Lakes, is likely to produce a minor accumulation of snow and sleet Sunday evening, followed by icy rain overnight and throughout Monday as a coastal storm develops off New Jersey and tracks offshore on a path near the New England coast.
 
Although western New England is targeted for the most severe effects, the government forecasters also issued alerts and advisories for the Pioneer Valley, eastern New York and northern Litchfield County in Connecticut.
 
'Travel could be impossible'
 
Because of an expected ice coating of a half to three-quarters of an inch in Berkshire County, “travel could be impossible and is strongly discouraged,” National Weather Service forecaster Joe Villani stated. The Monday morning and evening commutes will be strongly affected by the multiple severe weather hazards.
 
Residents who must travel in emergencies are urged to keep extra flashlights, food and water in their vehicles. Everyone should prepare for potential power outages, Villani added.
 
Ice storms are caused by warmer air aloft, producing rain that freezes on contact with below-freezing surfaces. A cold dome of air moving eastward across Quebec will funnel the low-level freeze into the high terrain of western New England, clashing with milder air and producing persistent freezing rain that’s not expected to let up until late Monday night.
 
He pinpointed Bennington and North Adams, Mass., as especially vulnerable to high winds on Monday. 
 
By Tuesday afternoon, most areas may warm to above freezing but snow or rain showers could linger off and on for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, with Thursday likely to be the only primarily sunny day of the week.
 
Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.
 
 
 

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