Winter Blast Whips Vermont

The combination of cold air and gusty winds often made it feel like the teens below zero Tuesday

Winter hit Vermont in three main ways Tuesday, with light snow, uncomfortably cold air, and gusty winds that made it feel like the teens below zero in the Burlington area.

According to Gene Richards, the aviation director of the Burlington International Airport, a handful of airlines and pilots opted to not attempt to land in Burlington until visibility conditions improved. Those decisions resulted in some delays, Richards told necn.

"Our braking conditions are very good here," Richards said. "We work very hard at cleaning the landing surface and keeping it clear throughout the day. So the challenge, for some airlines, has been the visibility, but they've been working to find windows where those conditions are looking better."

In downtown Burlington, Dave Willhoite said he was in Vermont on business. The Williamsburg, Virginia man told necn that just a few days ago, he was experiencing 70 degree weather back home.

"I think the weather's a little chilly; a lot different from Virginia," Willhoite chuckled.

Because his home in Virginia doesn't get nearly as cold as Vermont, Willhoite said he found himself a little unprepared for Tuesday's snow and temperatures in the single digits, with whipping winds creating the feel of sub-zero cold.

"I had to buy scarf," Willhoite said, noting it should make the rest of his short stay in Vermont more comfortable.

"It's definitely good for us," Allison Kozar of SkiRack said about bouts of winter weather, explaining cold and snow often drive people to the store to purchase hand warmers, hats, gloves, and accessories for shoes and boots aimed at preventing slipping on the ice.

The wind and fluctuating temperatures lately have meant very little ice has formed on Lake Champlain this season. But in protected, shallower locations, where the water has frozen, the Coast Guard is warning ice fishermen to be careful: to only go out with a buddy, and to have safety gear like ice picks, a whistle, or a cell phone kept in a plastic bag in case of problems.

"Stay close to shore is the biggest thing," Petty Officer First Class Jason Balmer said of any time someone is venturing on the ice in uncertain conditions, especially if snow is covering the ice. "So if you happen to fall through the ice, you have a short transit to get help and get warm."

Spectrum Youth and Family Services in Burlington put out a call for donations of warm winter gloves--water resistant ones, if possible--to provide the homeless teenagers and young adults it serves at its downtown Burlington drop-in center.

"To be out there on a day like today without any warm gloves would be really, really difficult, if not dangerous," said Mark Redmond, the executive director of Spectrum Youth and Family Services. "We see it as a need we need to fill. Giving out clothes is a big part of what we do."

For information on supporting Spectrum, visit this website: http://www.spectrumvt.org/

The team at Shelburne Vineyard was working outdoors Tuesday, harvesting and pressing 600 pounds of red marquette grapes to start the process of making a new kind of ice wine.

Ken Albert of Shelburne Vineyard explained the frozen fruit gives wine makers a more sugary, concentrated liquid, and ultimately, a sweet dessert drink. Think of it as Shelburne Vineyard's toast to winter.

"Vermont is a place where we think we can make world-class ice wine," Albert said. "We have world-class cold!"

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