Some brave snow for snacks; most stay off roads

Tim Cook/The Day A lone motorist braces against the wind blown snow Friday night as they head to their car on Broad Street in New London as a blizzard bears down on the region.

First there were advisories, then warnings and finally orders to stay off the roads as one of the worst snowstorms in recent history descended on eastern Connecticut.

By dusk, as visibility and road conditions deteriorated, most people had heeded the warnings.

But not all.

Tanar Moore, 20, of Mystic trotted out to his four-wheel drive Ford Explorer in the Big Y parking lot in Groton with a jug of iced tea tucked under one arm and a bag of snacks hanging from the other.

Shielding his face from the wind-blown snow, Moore said he’d braved the short drive for some “necessities,” in the event he lost power. A box of Hot Pockets was visible through his shopping bag.

“I also wanted to see how bad the roads were,” Moore said.

He wasn’t impressed with the state’s plowing early on. But by nightfall, plow trucks and their strobing cab lights, some backing in and out of commercial parking lots dominated the landscape across the region.

Stretches of Route 1 in Groton, Route 85 in New London and even Interstate 95 were quiet. Snow quickly accumulated and the vehicles still on the roads slowed to a crawl, or in some cases fish-tailing in attempts to climb hills.

While it was too early in the evening to predict totals, the storm was drawing comparisons to the blizzard of ’78, when a foot and a half of snow combined with gale-force winds for giant snow drifts.

Outside the Mobil station in Waterford, Jay Moriarty of Clinton said he was making his way back from Providence and simply needed a break from the drive.

“What town is this?” he asked as he wiped the snow from the edges of his Cadillac’s windshield.

It was earlier in the day Friday, before the brunt of the storm struck the area, when Steve Sweet and fellow Electric Boat engineers Matthew Putz, Andrew Moger and a few other co-workers enjoyed their unexpected afternoon off at Hanafin’s Public House on State Street in New London. They drank Smithwick’s Ale or Murphy’s Irish Stout, ate corned beef sandwiches and beef stew, and played darts.

“I’m from Ohio, so this is nothing,” said Sweet, a Groton resident, standing on the slushy sidewalk outside the pub as friends moved their cars to avoid getting parking tickets. “We’re just killing some time until we have to go home.”

Electric Boat sent workers at its New London, Groton, Norwich and Quonset Point, R.I., facilities home at 11 a.m.

Staff Writer Judy Benson contributed to this report.

g.smith@theday.com

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