Heavy Snow and Whipping Winds Pound Vermont

The mega-storm made driving very difficult

Conditions worsened throughout the day Tuesday, as Vermont was pelted with heavy snow and whipping winds. The western edge of the state was even under a rare blizzard warning for much of the day.

Eighteen inches of accumulation were expected in most parts of Vermont, with some spots in the state predicted to see two feet of fresh snow, with gusting winds creating potentially big snow drifts.

Public safety officials said due to that drifting and limited visibility, conditions still could get worse through the night before they improve Wednesday.

Vermont State Police advised that driving conditions on Interstate 89 and 91 are extremely difficult.

Police saw several cars involved in slide-offs on Interstate 89 in Chittenden County, though with no serious injuries reported, according to the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

In a news release, emergency management officials said Vermont State Police were advising the owners of cars involved in slide-offs that they would not be allowed to tow their vehicles for the time being due to road conditions.

VSP said they would arrange for removal when it was safe to do so, the release said. Abandoned cars were not to hinder plowing operations, it noted.

In downtown Burlington, as snow piled up, so did problems for drivers.

One motorist got stuck on busy South Winooski Avenue, so a stranger helped him back out of traffic.

There were no logjams for Eleanor Mackenzie, though. She was cross-country skiing on the sidewalk.

“It’s a really crazy day outside, so I thought it would be fun,” Mackenzie told necn.

Visibility was so poor and winds so ferocious that public safety officials were pleading with Vermonters to simply stay home if they can, both for their own safety and to give road crews a chance to attack the fresh accumulations.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation urged drivers to not “crowd the plow,” meaning give crews the space they need to work safely.

Chris Danforth, a mathematics professor at the University of Vermont, was braving the conditions on his bike.

“I stay on the sidewalk and make sure there are lots of red lights blinking behind me,” Danforth said of measures he takes when biking in the snow. “And I look around a lot more.”

The University of Vermont, which is in spring break mode this week, announced the closure of administrative offices starting midday Tuesday. Campus events were also canceled.

The school will reopen Thursday morning, according to a university news release.

Champlain College was also closed Tuesday, and offices of the city of Burlington and state of Vermont closed early to allow certain employees to safely make it home.

Mount Snow, a ski resort in the southern Vermont town of West Dover, said at some points during the day Tuesday, snow was coming down more heavily than many people at the destination could remember.

A resort spokesman said midday that snowfall was piling up at a rate of 2-3” per hour.

That type of snowfall left a lot of skiers and riders with one plan for Wednesday.

“Oh we’re going to enjoy the snow; we’re going skiing,” skier Ben Bloom beamed.

Some communities, including Burlington, instituted parking bans, to keep cars off the roads Tuesday night, to facilitate the clean-up process.

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