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March 14, 2018

Deep March snow; Three feet of snow piles up across central Vermont

Deep March snow; Three feet of snow piles up across central Vermont

By Julia Purdy and Polly Lynn Mikula

With 32 inches of new snow in the past week at Killington and a possibility of 8-12 more inches by Wednesday, March 14, the old weather proverb seems to be proved true: March has come in like a lion!

Winter Storm Quinn was the second Nor’easter to strike New England in a week, after Winter Storm Riley. But unlike Riley’s freak high winds and heavy coastal flooding, Quinn was a notch calmer, although it delivered heavier, wetter snow.

The Associated Press reported three fatalities, two of them directly related to Quinn, compared to Riley’s nine.

Green Mountain Power reported 32 power outages in Rutland County and Washington Electric reported 23 in Orange County, at end of day Thursday, March 8. No other power outages were reported for Quinn.

Now the region is in the mist of its third major March snow storm. Southern and eastern New England have begun to receive some of the heaviest snowfall as of Tuesday, March 13. Accumulations of 4-8 inches by the evening were expected but some said if the storm track can shift westward by 100 or so miles, accumulations could be double that and then some. The snow will continue Wednesday, possibly lingering into Thursday. In total, the region could get one to three feet by the week’s end.

Temperatures are expected to remain well below freezing through Friday, so this storm promises lighter, fluffier snow than the storms preceding it.

Severe March storms have been a fact of life in the Northeast for at least 130 years. The Great Blizzard of 1888, March 11-14, called the “Great White Hurricane,” stalled over the Northeast and dropped up to 58 inches (reported at Saratoga Springs); snow drifts averaged 30-40 feet. The National Weather Service identified it as a Nor’easter. All transportation, including seagoing vessels, was immobilized, prompting the construction of the first subway in the U.S., at Boston, according to Wikipedia.

The year 1900 saw the Great March Storm, dumping 40 inches in Woodstock. In “The Vermont Weather Book,” David Ludlum noted “57 inches of snow on ground at Readsboro near Massachusetts border” on March 8, 1967. Ludlum lists other noteworthy early March snowstorms in 1920, 1947, 1961, 1964 and 1971.

The Weather Channel refers to the “tension between increasing warmth and lingering cold” as the sun gains strength and warms daytime air. Ludlum writes that in this scenario Vermont becomes a “battle zone” in March. It’s this changeability that also makes maple and other deciduous trees to gush with sap—and what better place to ride out a snowstorm than in a sugarhouse, “boiling?”

Photo by Corey Potter
Killington Mountain Guide Bob Giolito skis waist-deep powder following the storm last week.

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