The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 25, 2014

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Severe winter wind storm wreaks havoc across Western Vermont

A severe winter wind storm is causing widespread tree damage and knocking out power to thousands of customers across the state, Friday, Dec. 21. Crews in Green Mountain Power's Middlebury District are reporting utility poles snapping from the wind alone, with no trees on the wire, as high winds whip down from the surrounding mountainsides. Extensive damage is being reported and continues to occur, with structural damage to homes and hundreds of trees down throughout western Vermont.

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.

"We have all available internal line workers and damage assessors deployed, in addition to about 110 contract line and tree workers," said GMP spokesman Jeremy Baker. "Despite the progress made by an army of workers, additional damage is expected to continue throughout the afternoon."

As of early afternoon, GMP had restored power to more than 8,000 customers. More than 18,000 customers remain without power.
"Because of the extensive and severe damage combined with the fact that new outages continue to occur it is clear we will be working through the night and well into the weekend to restore service to all customers," Baker said.

GMP advises that the public take caution throughout the remainder of the storm.

"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.