MONTPELIER, Vermont — Winter in Vermont often welcomes six times the state’s population in nearby travelers seeking mountain vacations. Convenience to its customers, means that the approximately 80 million people who live within a day’s drive to Vermont can ski more, travel less and get there safely.
In 2005, 3.8 million people visited Vermont in the winter months, December to March, reported by Erica Houskeeper, Director of Communications at the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. While most travel by automobile, Burlington International Airport Director Brian Searles said that flights have reached record numbers, with 2007 receiving the highest amount of visitors and snowfall to date.
“We are equipped to handle skiers and their equipment,” Searles said. “We are a destination airport, snow comes with the territory and we are not troubled by weather delays.”
In a separate conversation on roadway safety with John Zicconi, the Communications Director for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, we chalked up Vermont ease in navigation to one factor??В¦avalanches. We don’t have them.
But in all seriousness, getting to the surface of the state’s conditions is easier than scraping your windshield. VTrans, the Vermont Agency of Transportation is a well oiled machine with scores of vehicles, mechanics and drivers eager to pound that pavement, with dirt.
“In recent years, I remember times when every region in northern New England declared a state of emergency,” Zicconi said. “And we did not.”
People lucky enough to be in the state in 2007, the snowiest calendar year on record, often recall one storm with romantic nostalgia, unlike the cookie-cutter holidays of past; people still talk about getting dumped on Feb 14.
“The Valentine’s Day blizzard last year was Vermont’s second largest storm on record and there was not one fatality due to travel in the state.” Zicconi said. That day, Burlington, the state’s official snow measure location, received 25.7 inches in 24 hours, which was the second largest one-day dump in the state’s history. Some locations that day ??вЂњ Mount Mansfield for example, recorded as much as three feet of snow in a 24-hour period, Zicconi said.
He was not saying that no accidents occurred and speculated that surely someone, somewhere drove off a road, but consistently spoke of the folks in the field. “Our crews literally worked round the clock that day ??вЂњ as they would during any big storm ??вЂњ to keep our roadways safe and as passable as possible,” he said.
VTrans manages 3,200 miles of state highways, U.S. highways and Interstate highways. Local municipalities also maintain their own plows and roads, but VTrans backs the spine of Vermont’s roadway with this artillery:
- 250 plow trucks.
- 61 Garages spread out all over the state.
- 2-6 trucks per garage with support vehicles such as loaders and graders.
- On average 1.3 operators per truck (includes relief drivers).
- Nine statewide districts with their own mechanics for repairs at any time.
- 13 miles of road per truck (average).
- Often takes 1-2 hours to do a “round” of plowing and replenish sand and salt loads.
- An Operations Center provides support and communications to crews 24/7 during a storm.
Much like the skiers and riders awaiting the snow report for good news, VTrans crews watch the forecasts, eager for the opportunity to keep those highways safe. “We don’t do anything special to get ready for a winter storm as we are always stocked up with salt and have our trucks ready,” Zicconi said. “Our crews live for the big storm.”
SNOW FLURRIES AND FLIGHT FACTS
The Southern Vermont Regional Airport in Rutland and Burlington International Airport, BTV welcome skiers and riders. BTV offers 49 arrivals and departures per day, on six major carries from 14 hub locations. In 2007, 1.52 million travelers flew into BTV and blizzards were not detrimental. “We have a crew of maintenance technicians whose motto is ???catch the flakes on the way down’ and we take pride in the fact that we don’t have delays or close, only under the most extreme of conditions,” Searles said.
BTV received 131.6 inches of snow during calendar year 2007. This is the snowiest calendar year on record, as reported by J. Gregory Gerdel, Research and Operations Chief at the Department of Tourism & Marketing.
The following are Top Five snowiest calendar years at Burlington:
1.) 131.6″ 2007
2.) 129.6″ 1993
3.) 125.5″ 1966
4.) 124.4″ 1971
5.) 121.6″ 1972
The following are the Top Five snowiest seasons starting in July and ending in June of the following year at Burlington:
1.) 145.4″ 1970-1971
2.) 122.4″ 2000-2001
3.) 116.9″ 1992-1993
4.) 111.6″ 1965-1966
5.) 108.9″ 1971-1972