Charlotte got its first decent snowfall on Dec. 17 — nothing historic but a few good inches that looked promising for a white Christmas.
However, much of that snow melted during the next week.
Then about 1 p.m., Friday, Dec. 23, the area was hit with what meteorologists called a bomb cyclone. Blowing in during the morning it grew into a blizzard-like wind that last a few hours, but that didn’t leave a huge amount of snow.
What it did leave was damage, several hundred homes without power and a significant portion of residents facing the prospect of a dark Christmas, most because of trees and limbs that fell on power lines.
“The most recent severe windstorm produced the most damage of any widespread wind event since the Oct. 30, 2017, storm and will likely rank as a top-three overall storm in terms of statewide impacts since 2008,” said Jay Shafer, the chief science officer at Disaster Tech, which provides storm forecasts to Vermont utilities. “The last two weeks have brought Vermont a rare one-two punch of severe widespread power-outage producing storms. The Nor’easter last week produced more outages at its peak than any other wet storm since 1980, and there has not been a combination of two severe outage-impacting storms within such a short time period at least going back over four decades.”
Green Mountain Power said that 558 Charlotte homes lost power from 14 different incidents on the eve of Christmas Eve.
By late in the day on Christmas Eve most had power back.
One of those was Gretchen Williamson who lives off Converse Bay Road. She said her family was without power for over 24 hours. Without a generator, they heated by leaving the burners on their propane-fueled stove on — which is to say, not much heat.
Besides being cold, they were without water, which meant filling up 5-gallon buckets at her sister-in-law’s house on Lake Road who still had power.
Williamson said it was about 45 degrees in their bedroom. The power came on early enough on Saturday for her to bake pie to take to her daughter’s home for a holiday meal on Christmas Eve.
Road commissioner Junior Lewis said this year’s Yule bomb cyclone was not nearly as much work for him and his crew as last year’s holiday ice storm.
“I preferred this one,” Lewis said, which is understandable because during last year’s pre-Christmas ice event, the garage where his road clearing equipment was housed burned down.
There was very little Lewis could do this year because most of the problems were trees on power lines and his crew can’t touch those trees. Green Mountain Power has to take care of those incidents.
Bruno Murphy, who lives on Ash Road off Spear Street about 2 miles south of Hinesburg Road, said they lost power in the morning of Dec. 23. Green Mountain Power got power restored later that morning, but it went out again in the afternoon when the hard wind came.
The electricity appeared to have been taken out near Bingham Brook Road just north of his home by a whole line of trees that was knocked down, breaking the power lines there.
“It was pretty bad,” Murphy said.
This time they didn’t get power back for about 12 hours, just after midnight on Christmas Eve. After seeing the storm damage, he expected to be without power for much longer than that.
Murphy was impressed by the dedication of the Green Mountain Power employees who worked through the cold, snowy and windy weather on the cusp of the holiday: “To come through, clear the trees, re-string the lines and get the power back on was pretty good.”