On December 20, 2023

Flood waters rise again

By Jerry LeBlond

Aspirations for a white Christmas evaporated early this week

when coastal storm rainfall and melting snowpack swelled the

White River in Rochester flooding the fields surrounding

Chantreafield Farm off River Brook Drive.

 

Staff report

Heavy rain and melting snow inundated much of Vermont on Monday, Dec. 18, leading to swift-water rescues, evacuations, road closures and early school dismissals. Rivers continued to rise Monday until about midnight, state officials urged Vermonters to exercise caution and remain vigilant. 

Many areas throughout the state received 2 to 2.5 inches, according to Jessica Neiles, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Vermont. (Locally, preliminary reports from Quechee were the highest at 2.9 inches.)

The heavy rainfall was exacerbated by a number of factors, Neiles said: high temperatures, an abundance of fresh snow and frozen ground that could not absorb runoff. “Rainfall on top of snowpack is usually not a good thing,” she said. 

At a press conference late Monday afternoon, Gov. Phil Scott said that while the state was prepared, the extend of the flooding was unexpected. 

“But it hit me by surprise,” he said. “I knew there was going to be an increased, elevated amount of rain today — and the snow melt we knew was going to be a problem — but we didn’t expect this elevation to the amount of water that we’re seeing right now.”

“As we continue the recovery from this summer’s flooding, I know this is the last thing Vermonters want to see right now — and especially during the holiday season,” Scott continued.

“Many of the places that were impacted in July are currently experiencing flooding once again,” he said. “So for them… it’s a real gut punch.”

Killington, which suffered severe damages in the July flooding, particularly in the area of East Mountain Road , faired ok this time, Town Manager Michael Ramsey reported.

“The town had a few road closures due to the flooding, but overall, our infrastructure held up well ,” he said. “Crews were diligent about keeping culverts clear of debris, and the most serious problems we experienced were muddy roads, minor flooding in low areas, and manageable erosion.”

Elsewhere folks were not as lucky. As of 5 p.m., at least three rescue operations, according to Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison. In Moretown, the  Elementary School flooded and some residents were told to evacuate. 

Agency of Education spokesperson Ted Fisher said many schools and supervisory unions called for early dismissals Monday— the majority were located in Washington, Orange and Windsor counties. Mountain Views School district, serving the towns of Barnard, Bridgewater, Killington, Plymouth, Pomfret, Reading and Woodstock, closed at noon.

Secretary of Transportation Joe Flynn reported that 15 state roads were fully closed and 34 were partially closed. He said the Agency of Transportation had heard from 10 municipalities experiencing problems with local roads but had not received formal requests for assistance.

Amtrak and Cape Air  in Rutland suspended operations to and from Vermont, Flynn said. 

VTDigger contributed to this reporting.

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