Winter storm expected to cause power outages, airline delays, treacherous driving – WCAX

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – A major storm headed toward our region will result in dangerous driving, power outages, and even possible flooding going into the weekend.
Forecasters say the storm will begin Thursday afternoon as wet snow and rain. On Friday, the wind will arrive, causing potential power outages. The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Watch for most of the region from Friday morning to late Friday, with some gusts expected to reach upwards of 70 mph. The temperatures will then dip Friday evening, making for black ice and treacherous driving overnight into Saturday.
“We are concerned about the driving, especially on Friday afternoon and evening. As those temperatures plummet, those roads will get really slick really quickly Friday evening,” said Brooke Taber with the National Weather Service.
The storm comes during one of the biggest weekends for travel. Many airlines are offering travelers the option of choosing new flights to avoid the bad weather. Delta, American, United, and Southwest waived change fees at airports that might be affected.
“I think preparing, having a lot of patience and trying to change if you can the airlines either flying out today where there are no problems, or Thursday when there are no problems at least flying from Burlington,” Taber said.
And as this beast of a storm makes its way through the midwest, travel into airports like Chicago could be difficult. “It’s a tricky system, so check in with your airline, double check your plans, reach out to your airline even today, right now, and make sure your flights are on time. And again, watch the weather prior to coming into the airport,” said the Burlington International Airport’s Nic Longo.
After last week’s heavy snow knocked out power to more than 100,000 Vermonters, Governor Phil Scott is encouraging everyone to be safe and make sure they are prepared. “We are watching that with great interest and are preparing. We are prepared at this point but we will see what happens, but it’s not great timing in some respects,” Scott said.
The NWS is also encouraging people who live near flood-prone areas to watch for expected minor flooding on rivers.
The Vermont Electric Co-op is urging members to prepare for power outages. They say crews will be out but will be delayed because of the high winds and freezing temperatures. “This is a very severe forecast, so we’re watching closely and gearing up for a significant impact on our system,” VEC’s Rebecca Towne said in a statement. “We are strongly urging our members to prepare themselves for travel impacts and extended, potentially multi-day, outages.”
Green Mountain Power Wednesday was still restoring power to customers from last week’s storm. The utility says they will continue to have extra contract crews on standby over the weekend to deal with any additional outages.
“We had tripled our field force before that storm. And we are keeping folks here to serve our customers in preparation for the severe weather currently forecasted for late tomorrow night. Altogether, over 400 lineworkers, along with hundreds more GMP field operations workers are available as needed,” GMP’s Mike Burke said in a statement.
The utility says last week’s nor’easter ranks as the third worst storm for GMP in generations, with crews restoring power to more than 119,000 customers.
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