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VT snowpack is crippled after the annual pre-Christmas thaw.

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Following last weekend's significant dump, Vermont has taken an across the board hit when it comes to the backcountry; as skiers, we like to say that a little bit of rain is good for the base and that it helps with consolidation, but this latest deluge, the ice storm notwithstanding, up to 12 inches of December fluff has been largely negated by a cold front that swept its way through the midwestern US earlier this week.

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Vermont's Champlain Valley and New York's St Lawrence Valley chalked up over an inch and a half of ice, incapacitating holiday travel, events and, for 16,000 Vermonters, electric service.

Ski resorts including Bolton Valley, Jay Peak, Burke Mountain and Cochran's closed Sunday over operational difficulties and to discourage travel on questionable access roads. Jeffersonville gained an inch of ice Saturday night/Sunday morning and Stowe Mountain Resort lost electricity due to a substation failure on Vermont 108.

For backcountry skiers, this will mean a shiny, smooth layer for snow to fall on and it's not the end of the world for low angle trees, but for open 30-40-degree pitches, this could be a recipe for avalanche troubles later this season; a significant concern for the East, where there are scant established advisory systems and snow scientists.

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