Heavy winds on Friday caused downed trees, tree limbs and power lines, leaving a clean-up that continued through the weekend.
By Sunday afternoon, Green Mountain Power’s outage center showed about 1,700 customers were still affected but the storm had initially affected about 49,300 customers. On Saturday, around 5 p.m., about 5,000 customers had not yet had power restored.
Peter Banacos, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said a line of thunderstorms had moved across Vermont during the late afternoon and evening hours on Friday, producing large hail and damaging wind and flash floods in northern Vermont.
“It was a pretty potent line, a powerhouse low pressure system that moved across and produced some of the severe weather we observed,” Banacos said.
The storms also led to a tornado watch across large parts of Vermont on Friday.
The thunderstorms were followed by a severe cold front, causing gradient winds, because of the intensity of the low-pressure area, adding to the high winds on Friday night, Banacos added.
Because the soils were saturated in many areas, Banacos said, trees were uprooted that might otherwise have resisted the high winds.
The highest recorded wind gust for the storm was 65 mph in Jay in Orleans County.
In Rutland County, winds were recorded as high at 54 mph and in Washington County, the Montpelier airport recorded a 46 mph gust.
Banacos said with thunderstorms, the highest winds can occur in between observation sites. National Weather Service staff believes there were winds as high as 70 mph based on the damage and number of trees that were felled.
Kristen Kelly, a spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power, said on Saturday, said the biggest concentration of outages were around Royalton, Montpelier and Rutland but said all of the utility’s 16 districts had seen outages.
“The real takeaway that we’ve seen is the damage is statewide,” she said. ‘When you’re thinking about deploying resources to go fix it and get the lights back on, that’s tough because you can’t just send everybody in one direction.”
While Kelly said GMP staff were proud of the quick response that reduced the numbers of those affected from more than 49,000 just after the storm to 5,000 the next day, she said some of the remaining outages were among the toughest because many were in hard-to-reach areas and repairs might only restore a small number of customers.
“These are some of the most time-consuming outages to restore,” she said.
However, Kelly said the storm response in dry conditions with mild temperatures were much easier for the crews than when workers were handling the aftermath of some of the winter snowstorms.
Green Mountain Power had recruited some out-of-state workers to assist but Kelly said that had been a challenge because the windstorms were regional to the northeast so resources were needed beyond Vermont.
At least one injury may be connected to the wind storm.
On Saturday, the Vermont State Police responded to a motorcycle accident around 4:30 p.m. on Riford Bark Road in Braintree, which happened, according to local resident Thomas Kulpinski, 69, when he was driving his 2002 Suzuki motorcycle and collided with down electric wires.
Kulpinski was taken to Gifford Medical Center for evaluation and treatment of injuries to his hip, shoulder and ankle.
While there were clearly limbs or trees that had fallen in the Rutland area on Saturday, Mayor David Allaire said he had received no reports of any major damage or problems caused by the storm.
Vermont Emergency Management on Saturday said in a press release the state had seen a number of trees or power lines knocked down.