MONTPELIER, Vt. — Thousands of Vermonters remain without power and schools are closed from one end of the state to the other, but experts say the state was spared serious damage from superstorm Sandy.

National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Whittier says that as Sandy approached the coast it surprised forecasters by picking up speed, which helped reduce the danger to Vermont.

Whittier tells Vermont Public Radio there were still significant gusts of wind in Vermont, but they were not as strong as they could have been.

He says the state "lucked out."

At about 7 a.m. the state's electric utilities reported about 8,500 customers were without power.

The state's largest utility, Green Mountain Power, reported its crews had restored power to about 28,700 customers.