Region slammed by powerful storms

Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 11:36 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont was slammed with widespread severe storms Thursday that dumped hail and prompted numerous weather alerts, including the threat of tornados.

A total of nearly 5,000 outages were reported in some of the hardest hit areas including Bennington, Windsor, Orange, Essex, and Orleans Counties as of late Thursday afternoon.


In the Northeast Kingdom, the storm produced a tornado warning, though there was no recorded proof of one. The system did knock out power for some 3,600 customers in Orleans County alone and included high winds, thunder and lightning, and hail. Viewers from East Albany and Irasburg shared pictures of golfball and larger-sized hail.

The tornado warning follows a confirmed EF1 tornado earlier this week in Addison. Experts say that was very unusual because it was not a thunderstorm. The National Weather Service’s Scott Whittier says Thursday’s storm was a lot different. “Strong updrafts, they’re rotating, they can keep hail aloft. And in that tornado warning we issued for Orleans County, there was some big hail. And if all of the conditions are right, you can get a tornado that will reach the ground,” he said.

Vermont is no stranger to powerful thunderstorms that pop up on hot summer days. Whittier says there are about three days out of the year where there are tornado watches, but actual confirmed tornados are very rare.

Crews are working to restore power and folks we spoke to say they’re going to spend some time this weekend cleaning up.


Power was also out across the river in New Hampshire in some areas.

First responders in Orford say about half the town lost power Thursday afternoon. The hardest hit area is along Route 10 where crews are working to get the lights back on.

Officials say there are downed trees throughout the town but they are not aware of any injuries or damage to property. “We had a clap of thunder, lost power and our fire pagers started going off. We had wires and poles broken from the Congregational Church by the post office all the way down almost to the town line. South of here we got poles down. We got poles and tree down on Dame Hill and Indian Pond,” said Orford Fire Chief Terry Straight.

Crews from Piermont, Lyme, and Fairlee are all assisting in the cleanup effort. First responders are reminding the public never to go near down power lines.


Green Mountain Power has said it is prepared to respond and that customers are urged to be proactive. Charge your cell phone ahead of the storms and download the GMP app to check for outages and repair times.

They’re asking customers to report all outages. Most importantly, they want to remind everyone of some safety tips. “If there is any water on the roadway, don’t drive through it,” said GMP’s Kristin Carlson. “If you see a down tree or downed lines, stay away from it. That area could be energized and very dangerous.”

GMP says there will be extra line workers standing by to step up if needed. They have more storm-prep tips on their website.

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