A winter storm that is expected to start later today and continue into Friday has prompted many local school closures and other cancellations. The storm is expected to bring 5 to 10 inches of snow.
All school districts in southeastern Connecticut have canceled school for Friday: Colchester, East Lyme, Groton, Ledyard, Lyme-Old Lyme, Montville, New London, Norwich, Norwich Free Academy, Stonington and Waterford.
The University of Connecticut canceled all classes Thursday that were scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. or later. The university also will cancel classes on Friday with only essential employees, such as public safety and facilities crews, required to work, according to a press release.
In-person winter intersession classes canceled for Thursday will be rescheduled for Sunday, while classes canceled for Friday will be rescheduled for Saturday. All classes will be at the same time and place.
Online classes, which are part of the university's winter intersession, will continue to take place as scheduled during the storm.
OTHER CLOSURES AND CANCELLATIONS
Groton: The Groton Public Library has postponed the screening of the film "Broken" from tonight to 7 p.m. Jan. 10.
The Chelsea Groton Bank will open at 10 a.m. today.
East Lyme: East Lyme Public Schools have canceled after-school and evening activities, according to a notice on the school district's website. The district is closing after-school child care programs at 5 p.m. tonight and stated parents must pick up students by then.
Lyme-Old Lyme: All after-school activities have been canceled for today, the school district announced.
Old Lyme: Town Hall will open at 10 a.m. Friday to allow for time to clear the parking lot and streets. Residents are advised to call ahead in case the opening needs to be further delayed.
Salem: All after-school and evening activities at Salem School are canceled for Thursday, including boys' and girls' basketball practice.
Stonington: The transfer station and Town Hall will be closed Friday. Trash pickup will be late Friday or Saturday morning, according to First Selectmen Ed Haberek's Facebook page.
The 2014 Feast of Lights celebration, scheduled for 5 p.m. on Sunday, at Grace Episcopal Church in Yantic has been canceled due to inclement weather. The yearly event marks the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of Epiphany.
"A decision on whether we would have the event this year was made in anticipation of two approaching winter storm systems," said Kevin Harkins, publicity coordinator for Grace Church, in a statement. "Peoples' safety comes first and we felt it was necessary to cancel this year's feast", Harkins said.
For more information, visit www.gracechurchyantic.org or call (860) 887-2082.
East Lyme: A parking ban went into effect 6 p.m. Thursday and will continue until noon Friday on all public streets in town. Overnight parking is available in the town parking lot during the snowstorm.
"We will be fully staffed," said First Selectman Paul Formica. "We brought in the crews early this morning at 2 a.m. to pre-salt the roads."
Formica said the crews will continue to salt the roads until the first snow hits and the town will maintain a full crew overnight.
Groton City: The city has enacted a parking ban to facilitate snow removal from 6 p.m. Thursday until 3:30 p.m. Friday on the follow streets: Thames Street from Broad to School Streets; Slocomb Terrace; Beckwith Place; Latham Street (odd-side only) and Fort Street (odd-side only). Violators may be ticketed and towed at the owner's expense, according to a police press release.
The city has made additional parking available at Groton Heights School; the municipal parking lot at 2 Latham St.; and Washington Park, police said.
Ledyard: Ledyard has enacted a parking ban for all roads; the ban will remain in effect until the end of the snowstorm.
New London: There will be a city-wide parking ban effective tonight at 5 p.m.
Free parking for city residents is available at the Water Street Parking Garage and at downtown municipal lots.
Per winter parking regulations, cars must be parked on the odd side of the street.
Norwich: A parking ban took effect at 4 p.m. Thursday. The police department is reminding drivers that city regulations prohibit parking on the odd side of city streets during snowstorms and snow removal. In addition, cars may not be parked on either side of the following streets due to their narrowness:
Old Cemetery Lane; North Cliff Street; Shetucket Avenue; Terrace Avenue; Fourth Street from Prospect Street to Gilmour Street; Fifth Street, from Prospect Street to Page Street; Lake Street; Pond Street; Freeman Avenue; Boswell Avenue, from Lake Street to Arnold Street; Sunnyside Avenue (Laurel Hill section); Fairmont Street, from #16 to School Street; Carter Avenue; Fountain Street, from #16 to School Street; Summer Street; Center Street; and Quarry Street.
Violators may be fined $25 and the towing fee.
Property owners must also remove all snow, sleet and ice from their sidewalks within 12 hours of the storm or six hours after sunrise if the storm is overnight, according to city ordinance.
Old Lyme: The town has announced a parking ban on Lyme Street and Ferry Road effective 6 p.m. Thursday through 6 a.m. Friday.
Vehicles parked on those streets at that time may be ticketed and towed, according to a town announcement.
The parking ban will allow the town's public works department to treat and clear snow from the roads, it stated.
Salem: The town has announced a parking ban on all streets from 3 p.m. Thursday through 9 p.m. Friday.
Stonington: Police have announced that parking on all streets in Stonington would be banned starting Thursday afternoon; the ban will remain in effect until the storm has ended and all roads have been plowed. Violators will be ticketed and/or towed.
Stonington borough: A parking ban is in effect through Friday night in the borough. Cars not removed from Water Street or parked on the wrong side of Main and Elm streets will be ticketed and towed. Cars should be parked on the odd side of the street on Main and Elm streets Thursday and Friday.
Waterford: A parking ban is in effect Thursday until after the snowstorm.
A small number of public works crews will address icy spots in town first, and then a full crew will tackle all areas as the snowstorm ramps up, said Public Works Director Kristin Zawacki.
She said salt does not work as well to dissolve snow on roads in the low temperatures, so she reminded residents to drive slowly.
EMERGENCY SHELTER AND OTHER INFORMATION
East Lyme: Residents in need of shelter or help are asked to call the emergency operations center, but the town has not yet received any calls, First Selectman Paul Formica said.
Formica also advised people to use caution in light of high-wind gusts and cold temperatures accompanying the storm.
For residents scheduled for Friday garbage pick-up, crews will likely collect the trash — as well as its normal schedule — on Monday, if the weather hinders trash pick-up.
Norwich: Norwich Emergency Management Director Gene Arters said the Kelly Middle School has been placed on standby as a potential shelter, and the Emergency Operations Center will be activated as needed. The city's public works crews are ready for the snowstorm, he said.
In light of chilling temperatures Friday, he also asked residents to check on the elderly and those in need of special services. He advised that Friday-morning travel be restricted to emergency traffic only.
The extreme cold could produce powdery snow that residents may find easy to shovel, he said. But he looked ahead to a forecasted coastal rain storm on Monday and asked residents to shovel snow away from their homes' foundation to prevent basement flooding.
Amtrak will operate on a lighter schedule Friday due to snowy conditions. Acela Express and Northeast Regional service will continue to run Friday between Boston and Washington, but with fewer trains, especially in New England, according to a company press release.
Corridor services, including most of the Springfield Shuttle between New Haven and Springfield, Mass., are expected to run as scheduled, according to Amtrak.
Amtrak Customer Service is notifying travelers whose reservations need to be changed. Refunds and travel vouchers may also be available for travelers with reservations who choose not to travel Friday, according to Amtrak.
Passengers can call (800) USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak.com to plan their trips, Amtrak stated.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has announced a 9:30 a.m. delayed opening of state offices on Friday for nonessential government employees.
Due to the forecasted weather, the opening of state courthouses and judicial branch administrative offices will be delayed on Friday until 10 a.m. All jurors who were scheduled to appear in a state courthouse on Friday do not have to report, the judicial branch announced.
TIPS TO PREVENT WATER PIPES FROM FREEZING
Connecticut Water offered the following suggestions to prevent frozen water pipes during the cold snap:
- Allow room heat to freely circulate around meters and water pipes. Meters and pipes in an enclosed area, or on an outside cellar wall restricted from heat circulation, can result in freeze-ups when temperatures drop.
- Seal cracks or holes in windows, walls or doors near the meter or pipes. Outside air can quickly cause a freeze-up, particularly if winds create a chilling effect.
- Wrap pipes with insulation. Insulating pipes is helpful when basement temperatures are reduced because of lower thermostat settings, an energy efficient furnace or use of a wood stove or other sources of heat. Check the insulation regularly to make sure it stays dry. Wet insulation can freeze and damage the pipes it was intended to protect.
- Consider placing a small heater near pipes located in a particularly vulnerable location when the forecast is for bitter cold temperatures. Be sure to take proper safety precautions when doing so.
- Check for cracks in the vault cover of outside meter installations.
- Know the location of your water shut-off valve. If pipes or the water meter do freeze and burst, homeowners should know how to shut the water off to their home.
Homeowners who experience a frozen pipe can try to thaw the line safely by using a hair dryer, heat lamp or electric lamp. Thawing won't be fast, but it will be safe. Do not leave the pipes unattended. Never use an open flame or an electric arc welder to thaw frozen water lines. If in doubt, call a plumber or heating contractor to safely thaw the line and make any necessary repairs.
If the water meter is frozen or damaged, customers should call Connecticut Water at (800) 286-5700.