Bitter Cold Follows Unseasonably Mild Weather for Vermont

It felt like 15 degrees below zero in Burlington Monday, after nearly reaching 70 degrees on Christmas Eve

Bitterly cold air and snow hit Vermont Monday, marking a return to typical January weather after many parts of the state reached nearly 70 degrees on Christmas Eve.

The air temperature was in the low single digits in Burlington, with gusty winds that made it feel more like 15 degrees below zero.

A few inches of powdery snow also fell, leaving salesman Brian Gamache busy cleaning cars at Shearer Audi in South Burlington.

"I usually do 20-30 cars," Gamache said of his snow-clearing duties. "This [amount of snow] isn't bad--this is actually very, very easy. When we get the one-foot, two-foot snow storms, it's an all-day if not two-day affair to clean out the lot."

The same nagging winds that added extra bite to the cold air also forced a day-long shutdown of the ferry across Lake Champlain between Charlotte and Essex, New York, according to an announcement posted to the window of the Lake Champlain Ferries ticket booth in Charlotte.

Also visible on the lake Monday was the weather phenomenon known as "steam fog," formed when rising vapor from warm water hits bitterly cold air.

The return to winter reality suddenly made it seem like a distant memory that it was practically short sleeves weather on Christmas Eve in the Burlington area, which measured a record 68 degrees, at least 65 degrees warmer than what Vermonters would experience just a week and a half later.

"It was a long summer, but it's good to see the snow," said Al Letzelter of the Burlington Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront Department, who was plowing snow on the city's waterfront Monday morning. "We needed it, and it keeps us busy!"

The Vermont Agency of Transportation said its crews statewide were out in force Sunday night and through the day Monday, attacking the first snowfall of 2016.

However, Dave Blackmore, the operations manager of VTrans District Five out of Colchester, said rock salt loses its effectiveness in temperatures as low as Monday's, so it is used sparingly in the conditions his team confronted. Blackmore explained that in bitter cold, road crews need additives to enable salt to better melt ice, and those additives are often not cost-effective, he said.

"Most Vermonters know when they see snow on the road, they do have to slow down a little bit," Blackmore said. "Allow a little more time to get to your destination, and leave some good distance between you and the car ahead of you."

That advice should come in handy now that cold weather seems to have finally arrived in Vermont.

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