Region braces for powerful storm; Waterbury emergency ops center to open Friday

Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 5:53 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2022 at 9:36 AM EST
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WATERBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - A major winter storm expected to hit our region starting Thursday could cause power outages, dangerous driving, and other disruptions. Vermont Emergency Management is activating its Waterbury emergency command center Friday morning and urging people to make a plan now.

People across the area are gearing Thursday were gearing up for the approaching storm. At Plainfield Hardware, locals stocked up on sand, salt, shovels, and batteries.

“We’re getting hit with two different -- one with snow and one with the rain. Salt has been going out, sand has been going out -- we just had a bunch of that delivered,” said Rich Christiansen, the store’s owner. Wood pellets are also a hot ticket item as some are preparing to lose power.

As the storm looms, state officials are reminding everyone to have a plan, including several days of food and water; filling up generators and providing good ventilation; fresh batteries for flashlights; and charging your phone. There are also smaller things you can do such as filling up your bathtub so you have water to flush the toilet

“Make the best decision for your safety and the safety of others around you on the roadways. This is definitely going to be an impactful event,” said Vermont Emergency Management’s Erica Bornemann

The storm is expected to be dynamic and leaders are calling it potentially historic. Warm temperatures and rain followed by wind gusts as high as 70 mph, followed by a flash freeze.

Green Mountain Power still has extra crews on hand from last weekend’s storm. “We’re going tio see winds like we haven’t seen in Vermont in years and that could create some significant damage in a short period of time,” said GMP’s Kristin Carlson. She said the utility is reaching out to its 270,000 customers and reminding them to make a plan.

The storm will slam the region two days before Christmas and Bornemann says they are concerned some may not be paying attention to the forecast as they get ready for the holidays. “This is going to be an impactful storm for Vermont right around the holiday season. I advise that your plans be fluid and if you need to find another time to celebrate with your friends and family, that may be the case,” she said.


Western New York is already feeling the impacts of the storm and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul Thursday told New Yorkers to take it seriously. “We need to manage this storm because it’s going to hit at a very peak time, a time when people do want to be on the roads and in airports and traveling to see their families,” she said.

NYSEG says utility crews in the North Country are standing by to respond. The utility has staged an additional 330 line and tree crews across the state in case the lights go out. They say the response will be in three phases -- assessment of damage, a restoration plan, and making repairs. They are also reminding New Yorkers to stay away from downed power lines and to be prepared.

“Customers should plan ahead for this storm, charge their phones, have drinking water available. Fill your car up with gas to be ready. If you’re on a well -- which a lot of our North Country customers are -- have water set aside so that you can do the things you need to do with water,” said NYSEG’s Shelby Cohen.

They urge customers to report outages as soon as possible.


Road crews in New Hampshire are preparing for the pending storm.

The salt shed off Interstate 89 in Enfield was abuzz with activity Thursday afternoon. Officials at New Hampshire’s Department of Transportation say their trucks will be out in force salting roads, but that the trick will be to wait until after the rain subsides so that it doesn’t wash away before the freezing occurs.

“We are ready and we will get out there in that exact moment. And that is the tricky part of this -- when is that exact moment, and where, too? Different parts of the state -- the Upper Valley, different elevations -- Mother Nature creates a few challenges for us,” said N.H. DOT’s Richard Arcand.

Like all storms, transportation officials are telling travelers to plan for extra time and avoid driving through standing water.


The city of Lebanon is among the municipalities planning for the storm. City Fire Chief Jim Wheatley says the public works department was clearing storm drains Thursday ahead of possible flooding.

“We are going to see a little bit of snow. It is going to change to rain and then the temperatures are going to drop off significantly. And it is going to be tough for the public works departments to manage that and stay on top of that. There is going to be freezing, there is going to be icing and it is going to happen really, really quickly. So, if you are on the road, it could happen while you are on the road. So, just drive careful and monitor the conditions,” he said.

Lebanon officials say they will be monitoring the storm and prepared to open an emergency response command center if needed.

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