Vermonters Make Most of Latest Snowfall

The storm caused emergency situations for many, including a multi-car crash on Interstate 89, but other people in Vermont found ways to have fun — like swimming in icy water of Lake Champlain

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Widespread snowfall blanketed Vermont Friday, creating experiences ranging from tragic to fun.

Vermont State Police reported at least one death from a multi-car crash in hazardous conditions on Interstate 89 in Milton, which involved around 30 vehicles and forced an hourslong closure to the highway.

According to VSP, the crash happened during heavy and blowing snow, when the road was icy and covered in snow. An investigation into the events preceding the pileup was in its early stages Friday night, state police noted.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation pleaded with drivers to give plenty to room to plows, wreckers, and first responders out working in the snowy conditions.

"It's not only the plows," Dan Shepard of VTrans noted. "It's also our state police, local police, wrecker operators — any emergency vehicles — they need the room to move during snowstorms. They're out because they're trying to protect the drivers, especially on the interstate. So just make sure that we give everybody space."

Elsewhere, canceled flights lit up the arrivals and departures board at the Burlington International Airport, and public works personnel like Dick Labarge in Winooski had a lot of cleanup to do.

"We are sure trying," Labarge said in between passes on a sidewalk in downtown Winooski. "We try to keep all the businesses clean and sidewalks safe for people to walk."

Homeowners were scrambling for ice melt, a South Burlington business said, because underneath all that fresh snow in many spots were really slippery patches left by the thawing and refreezing earlier this week.

"It's been kind of a crazy weather season, where everything keeps thawing and melting and then everything freezes again, so all of a sudden you have the ice problem," said Greg Bibens of Bibens Ace Hardware, explaining why ice melt is a hot seller this week. "It's keeping it in stock that's the hard part. There's still the supply chain issues, so we get what we can get, and when it's gone, it's gone."

There were no complaints about Friday's snowfall from Ajax the Alaskan Malamute, who was playing in the snow on the Burlington waterfront with his owner, Alex Corrada.

"I don't think he's ever been cold," Corrada said of his dog. "He's been kind of reveling in the cold weather and snow, and it's really great to just see him romp around."

Ski resorts around the state were thrilled to regain terrain that was lost to recent rain and melting.

"We can certainly use the snow," observed Adam White of Stowe Mountain Resort. "We had a few unfortunate events — warm-ups and then some rain late last week — so our mountain ops team has done a really good job getting the mountain back into shape and resurfacing, but there's no substitute for help from the skies like this."

Because resorts expect big crowds this weekend with the fresh snow, White suggested skiers and riders leave early, carpool, and take advantage of resort shuttles.

Two groups — Burlington's Red Hot Chilly Dippers and the Dipping Dogs from the University of Vermont — were savoring winter in a way few others would: by braving Lake Champlain for quick dunks they say are mind-clearing and invigorating.

The "Red Hot Chilly Dippers" take daily swims into Lake Champlain to raise funds for Spectrum Youth and Family Services.

"It's mostly visual," Dipping Dog Tim Forkey said of the appeal of going into Lake Champlain during a snowstorm. "But for some reason, I feel like having the snow around you makes you feel warmer. It's like, more closed off — you feel just in your one spot in the lake."

"It was a lot of fun to get in the water and have the snow falling on you and experience all the surroundings of ice," added Red Hot Chilly Dipper Annegret Schmitt-Johnson. "Just the snowflakes around you and feeling the cold, that was really fun."

For more information on skiing and riding opportunities in Vermont, visit this industry website.

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