Wind Storm Hammers Vermont

22 December 2012

News Release
Contact: Jeremy Baker, Green Mountain Power, (802) 770-4132
For immediate release: December 21, 2012 5:30 p.m.
First day of winter wind storm hammers Vermont
Restoration could continue into late Monday.
Rutland, VT… The first day of winter came roaring through Vermont, with heavy winds causing extensive damage, knocking down trees and power poles, and causing outages to thousands of customers, particularly in the western part of the state.
The wind started in the early hours of this morning, and continued to pick up strength and speed as it moved north, causing outages and destruction across its path.
“Winds from this storm are much stronger than what we experienced with Super Storm Sandy and the damage is more intense,” said GMP spokesperson Jeremy Baker. “It may be that restoration for some customers will continue into Christmas Eve, or even later, as we are finding the damage to be extreme. We are concerned about customer safety as the temperature is predicted to be in the single digits by late Saturday. We are urging customers to consider back-up plans if they don’t have heat.”
Crew leaders across western Vermont reported hundreds of downed lines, poles snapped at the base by wind, and in many cases dozens of trees on the lines. “We don’t have a wind gauge at the shop, but I have never seen the wind blow as hard as it did here,” Middlebury Operations Supervisor Jon Martin said. “It took down a barn just up the road and was absolutely whipping off the mountains to our east. It cut a swath through much of eastern Addison County.” There were also reports of a tractor trailer being blown over on Route 7.
“An army of workers is responding to this storm,” said Baker. “In addition to GMP lineworkers and support staff across the state, by tomorrow, we will have 160 contract lineworkers and 110 tree workers helping us get power restored as quickly as possible. Even so, the damage is so severe that we anticipate we will be working through the night and even into Christmas Eve to restore service to everyone. Many roads are impassable, and since we are still getting new outages, we are still assessing the damage, but there is considerable and extensive damage in many areas, and there are hundreds of individual problems, many of them affecting just one or two customers.”
As of 5:00 pm, 31,946 GMP customers had been affected. GMP had restored power to more than 14,576 customers, and 17,370 customers remain without power. With the high winds continuing to blow, some additional outages are expected to occur throughout the state.
Winds have been recorded as high as 67 mph in Jericho, 59 in Rutland, and in the upper 50s along the Route 7 corridor. A gust of 117 mph was recorded on top of Mount Mansfield. These extreme winds have brought down not just limbs and branches, but whole trees onto the lines.
“What is very unusual about this storm is that poles are breaking without trees landing on them, but just from the force of the wind,” said Baker.
GMP advises that the public take care to be safe throughout the remainder of the storm and cleanup.
“As with other events of this nature, we are stressing that people treat all downed wires as live and report them to us immediately,” Baker said. “Safety becomes the paramount concern during storm situations, and we encourage everyone to be aware of all potential hazards resulting from the high winds.”
GMP has enhanced its current outage reporting options.  The company has added a “Power Out” button on its Facebook page that allows customers an additional avenue to report an outage.  “We encourage our customers to use whatever method is most convenient for them. They can still call 1-888-835-4672 to report an outage; however, we have made it as easy as possible for our customers to provide us with their information via the web, their mobile phones, or Facebook,” Baker said.
GMP reminds customers that if the service wire or meter box along the side of the home has been damaged, it must be repaired by the customer’s electrician.

GMP offered the following safety advice:
·         Before outages occur, be sure you have a phone that is hard-wired and does not rely on electricity.
·         Fill a bathtub with water before you lose service so the water can be used to flush toilets when the power is out. PREVENT UNSUPERVISED BATHROOM ACCESS TO CHILDREN.
·         Treat any downed line as if it is live.  Report the line to your local utility and fire department, stay at least 50 feet away from the line, and keep children and pets away as well.
·         If using a generator, read and follow the owner’s manual before starting it.  Never operate a generator inside any structure or near a structure.  Use a transfer switch to ensure electricity is not accidentally fed onto a line where line crews must work.
·         Keep freezers and refrigerators closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage.
·         If power goes out, turn off all electrical appliances except one light so you’ll know when service returns.  Then, turn equipment back on slowly.
·         Never use grills inside garages, sheds or other buildings, as the fumes can be poisonous.
There will be another press release update early Saturday morning. Updates later this evening will be issued as warranted.