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Storm-weary region pounded again; state scrambles for more salt

By Johanna Somers and Greg Smith

Publication: The Day

Published February 14. 2014 4:00AM   Updated February 14. 2014 11:44PM
Sean D. Elliot/The Day
An employee at Benny's on New London Turnpike in Norwich clears snow Thursday from the store's entrance below signs of the season.

Despite a lull in Thursday's storm, forecasters said a winter storm warning remained in effect until 6 a.m. today in southeastern Connecticut, with rain, snow and sleet, perhaps even a rumble of thunder, expected overnight.

The National Weather Service predicts additional snow accumulation of 1 to 4 inches, with snow falling at a rate of up to 1 inch an hour in some isolated areas.

"Round one has pretty much moved through," said David Stark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

While today should be mostly sunny and dry, with temperatures in the mid to upper 30s, stormy skies are expected to bring more snow and rain after midnight and throughout the day Saturday.

That could spell trouble for the state and municipalities alike, which are facing a salt shortage that on Thursday prompted Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to declare a state of emergency.

"We will be asking the White House and FEMA to assist us in locating additional stocks of salt for the purposes of building up our supply beyond a one-storm supply," Malloy said on Thursday from the State Armory in Hartford. "I will note that we are expecting snow over the weekend."

The state last week received a delivery of salt to treat roads, but that salt is getting used up a lot faster than anticipated, Malloy said. While a normal storm would require the use of 15,000 tons of salt, the latest storm has required at least 25,000 tons, he said.

The state has enough salt to treat roads for one more storm, but Malloy warned that suppliers are having a hard time finding enough salt to sell to the state.

Malloy asked municipalities to continue to report to the state their salt shortages. New London on Wednesday announced that it did not have enough salt to fully treat the city's roads.

"We will do everything we can to be of assistance to municipalities," Malloy said.

On Thursday, the state's Department of Transportation had its entire fleet of 632 trucks on the roads along with 200 private contractors' trucks, Malloy said.

Mass transit continued to experience delays, he said, and buses were pulled off the roads Thursday afternoon. Bradley International Airport was up and running, but about 70 percent of flights were canceled, Malloy said.

First responders had received about 800 calls for assistance as of Thursday afternoon. Sixty accidents were reported statewide, six of them with injuries, he said.

There were fewer accidents during this storm compared to the last one, either because more people heeded warnings to stay off the roads or got better at driving in bad weather conditions, Malloy added.

"The best thing you can do if you really want to be safe is stay home," he said.

In order to help stagger the rush hour commute, Malloy has ordered that all non-essential state workers report to work one hour later than normal today.

Meanwhile, a ban on tandem trucks that went into effect Thursday would be lifted at a time to be determined, Malloy said, in coordination with neighboring New York state.

j.somers@theday.com

g.smith@theday.com

Editor's note: This version corrects the amount of salt the state needs to respond to a storm.

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