(Host) Vermont and northern New York got clobbered with the biggest March snowstorm on record Monday.
The near-blizzard conditions in northern areas shut down schools, government offices and highways. This was after a weekend of rain sent rivers rising and prompted flood advisories throughout the state.
As VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, road crews struggled to keep up.
(Music) (Sound of street music)
(Sneyd) Shoppers walking down Burlington’s Church Street are usually accompanied by piped-in music.
But after the storm, the music was drowned out.
(Sound of snow-clearing equipment)
(Sneyd) James Daly used a small tractor to push snow into the center of the pedestrian mall.
(Daly) "this is really a lot of snow. We can barely move it. I mean, I’m just back and forth, back and forth. Normally we can run right down and push it all over real fast, keep it to one side. Today it’s just piling it in any place that you can find a spot."
(Sneyd) Crews all over northern Vermont were in the same position.
In Winooski, Kevin O’Neil is in charge of maintenance for city schools. He says the amount of snow was compounded by wind and drifts.
(O’Neil) "And the two feet that fell on the ground, you can double that, literally double it, because of the wind blowing it off the flat roof. The snow drifts – I can’t even see some of my doors the snow is so tall. It’s just horrendous. It’s awesome. It really is."
(Sneyd) Winds got close to blizzard strength. And the National Weather Service says several records were set for the most snow to fall on a single day in March.
Like the rest of northern and central Vermont, Burlington got two feet. Jericho had 30 inches.
(Shovel) Sound of shoveling, run under next track and fade out at actuality.
(Sneyd) It all had to be put somewhere. In Burlington, maintenance worker Jamie Green was digging out the entrances to stores and restaurants.
(Green) "Well, it’s a quarter mile both ways. I’ve already done that side. Now I’m on this side. I’m probably getting close to a half-a-mile."
(Sneyd) Getting around Burlington was a challenge. Side streets hadn’t been touched by city plows. Public bus service was suspended. City Hall was closed.
But Mayor Bob Kiss commuted to his office using something other than his trademark pickup truck.
(Kiss) "Snowshoes. They actually work pretty well today. Crampons dig in where it’s icy and there’s plenty of snow in a lot of places. So it’s great. It’s like a winter day in Burlington."
(Sneyd) And many took advantage of the snow.
Randy Pebbles’ cross country ski poles stabbed through snow into the bricks of Church Street. But he was having a great time on an unexpected day off.
(Pebbles) "I was on my way to work and got stuck in the middle of our road. Got back in the drive and said, ‘Well, that’s it.’ So here I am."
(Sneyd) Then he skied off for home to wait for the city plows.
For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd