MONTPELIER Vt. - Heavy, wet snow fell across the state last night toppling trees and power lines. CVPS Crews working through the night Tuesday restored service to about 7,000 customers, but nearly 20,000 were without service at 6 a.m., and new outages were still occurring.
The damage was wrought by the first Nor'easter of the year, fueled by moisture from Hurricane Wilma. The snow broke limbs and trees, and left others draped on top of power lines that are still standing.
CVPS crews are being assisted by 22 contract tree crews this morning, but the damage is extensive.
"Mother Nature seems content to keep pushing us back a couple of steps each time we take one forward," Central Vermont Public Service spokesman Steve Costello said. "Crews are seeing trees fall around them as they're repairing existing damage."
The damage is spread from one end of the state to the other, the common trait so far being altitude.
"The higher the elevation, the more snow we're seeing, and it's wet, dense snow," Costello said. "With a lot of leaves still on the trees, that's a recipe for trouble. Slippery roads are also adding to the challenge as the crews move from one problem to the next."
Snowfalls ranged widely from a trace in valleys to more than 1 foot in higher elevations.
The National Weather Service in Burlington reported 16 inches of snow in Barton, 14 inches in East Brownington and in Underhill, 20 inches on Jay Peak, and only a trace in Montpelier.
State police reported dozens of accidents as many Vermonters got the season's first taste of winter driving.
More than 140 schools were closed Wednesday or planned to open later in the morning.
The snow was expected to continue throughout the morning until midday. The National Weather Service said a winter storm watch would continue until noon.
"We have a difficult clean-up ahead of us," Costello said. "Some of the damage is extensive." In New York, the weather problems started Tuesday afternoon in the Binghamton area, where snow caused dozens of vehicle crashes and knocked out power to a few dozen customers.
In Lake Placid, skiers celebrated the snowfall by skiing down Whiteface Mountain's Memorial Highway, which is closed to traffic for the winter.