Rain, Weather Problems Plaguing Vt. - NECN

Rain, Weather Problems Plaguing Vt.



    Rain, weather problems plaguing Vt.

    This has been a record-breaking summer for rainfall in the Green Mountain State (Published Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014)

    (NECN: Jack Thurston, Brookfield, Vt.) - Vermont's Transportation Agency has been working overtime on Route 12 in Brookfield. Huge chunks of it washed out last week when an estimated 4.5 inches of rain hammered portions of central Vermont in just a 90-minute period.

    "It's a different road every day," sighed Sal Balzanelli of VTrans, describing the frequency of storm damage this summer. "There's not much we can do about it until the sun comes back up."

    Balzanelli suggested he and many other workers are tired of seeing Vermont's state and town roads seemingly dying deaths by a thousand cuts this summer. "We just try to repair it best we can, to keep people moving," he said. "And keep plugging away."

    Storms have been relentless. According to the National Weather Service, the record-breaking two-month period of May and June dumped nearly 20 inches of rainfall on Burlington. Even more fell on surrounding areas. Isolated downpours kept lashing some southern and central Vermont communities Monday.

    Safety warnings are now up for the state's swimming holes and rivers, many of which are raging. Three suspected drownings have been reported in the past few days. Last week, a 16-year-old boy died in a river in Barre, a 26-year-old man was swept away in a Bristol river, and a Massachusetts man was found dead in Lake Groton.

    All eyes are now on Lake Champlain. Its current height, 99.6 feet, is a record for July, near flood stage. The National Weather Service says people living on the lake shore should closely watch water levels over the next few weeks.

    "Very busy here," said Brooke Taber with the National Weather Service. "We haven't had a nice, quiet weather day in probably two months, at least, that we're not dealing with some sort of precipitation on the radar."

    Taber said the Weather Service's station in Burlington has been closely watching frequent, isolated storms and issuing alerts for flash flooding and other problems. There may be no break in sight: Taber said he is now watching potentially damaging rainfall for this Wednesday. "I get sort of tired of forecasting showers and thunderstorms every day," he admitted.

    The ground in much of Vermont is so wet and saturated, there are also now concerns over the state's trees. There's not enough strong earth for the roots to hold onto, so if powerful winds roar through later this week, Taber said shallow-rooted trees could topple.

    Back on Route 12, the workers on the VTrans road crew said they hope all their new fixes aren't undone by more assaults from Mother Nature. "We take it just a day at a time," Balzanelli said.

    Add Balzanelli to the long list of Vermonters desperate for all this rain to be replaced by a nice stretch of dry, sunny days.