Yes, it was a blizzard - at least for southeastern Connecticut

William Banfield, left, 10, and Matthew Silva, 14, both residents of Stonington Borough, walk up Water Street  in the borough, as they serve for possible shoveling jobs, during day two of a blizzard Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.
William Banfield, left, 10, and Matthew Silva, 14, both residents of Stonington Borough, walk up Water Street in the borough, as they serve for possible shoveling jobs, during day two of a blizzard Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.

Gary Lessor, Western Connecticut State Weather Center meteorologist, said today’s weather is a tale of two snowstorms.

On the western part of the state, the snowfall totals range between 5 to 10 inches. But the story is much different is the eastern part, where snowfall totals will range between 20 to 28 inches, with some areas experiencing higher amounts.

“This is why weather forecasting is difficult,” said Lessor. “No two towns are alike.”

As of 9 a.m., Waterbury only received 5 inches, Darien 9 inches while Preston received 26 inches, 24 inches in East Lyme and Groton and Colchester each got 20 inches.

He said New London and Windham counties received the brunt of the storm, which included a blizzard during the early morning hours.

Lessor said the storm met the two main criteria of a blizzard: For three consecutive hours, the visibility must be less than a quarter mile and wind gusts must be at least 35 mph.

The fiercest part of the storm occurred between 2 and 8 a.m. when it was snowing at a rate of 2 to 4 inches an hour. Overnight, the region received a range of 8 to 12 inches of snow.

“The storm is now losing its grip on Connecticut,” Lessor said late morning.

The snow, however, isn't expected to exit the region until late tonight. The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning until 6 p.m.

Lessor said the next chance for snow will be Thursday night into Friday morning. That storm could bring another inch or two of snow.

A state of emergency declared by Waterford officials is to be lifted at 7 a.m. Wednesday and town buildings will be open as of that time according to a town press release.

Waterford Public Schools will be closed, however, according to First Selectman Daniel Steward. He said trash pickup is cancelled for the rest of the week and will resume next week on its normal schedule.

Snow accumulation has been less than anticipated but still poses a challenge for public works and temporarily hired crews to clear, Steward said over the phone from the town’s Emergency Operations Center located at the police station Tuesday afternoon. He estimated accumulation at about 18 inches throughout town.

“It’s probably a little lighter than what we anticipated, but it’s still extremely difficult to work with because there’s just no place to put it,” he said.

Steward said town staff working Tuesday from the center included himself, public works staff, law enforcement and emergency personnel, human resources staff and the finance director.

He said the finance director was on hand to keep track of overtime and other spending in the event that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared the blizzard an emergency and offered to compensate towns for costs incurred during cleanup.

Steward said that the town spent more than $100,000 on cleanup when the snow storm Nemo hit a few years ago.

Ploughs have been clearing roads since 4 p.m. Monday and workers will continue clearing roads until midnight, before taking a break and continuing Wednesday morning, according to Steward.

While town offices will be open Wednesday, Steward said staffing would be minimal.

“I wouldn’t expect a lot of services there,” he said.

The parking ban remains in effect until all the roadways have been cleared by public works according to the earlier press release. Any vehicles remaining on the on roadway will be towed at the owner’s expense, the release stated.

Kevin Carrico, a public works employee for East Lyme, started work at 7 a.m. on Monday.

"We all did," he said Tuesday afternoon. "It's a community effort. You team up." He had a break for a nap during the night, when roads were too dangerous, he said. Then everyone regrouped.

His combination sander and plow got stuck briefly on a side street, and had to be pulled out.

"Part of the job," Carrico said.

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder said this morning that the blizzard is not as bad as anticipated but that drivers should stay off town roads so that crews can clear them.

"We don't have any electricity out. We don't have any downed trees," she said. "They have been doing a good job clearing the roads, though the snow is drifting."

The town has received nearly 20 inches of snow as of 8 a.m.

Seven town plows are on the roads and the town's public works director is riding around monitoring conditions, Reemsnyder said. A flood watch has been called off.

A parking ban is still in effect until further notice, she said. Town hall is closed, but residents can call the Emergency Management Center at (860) 598-0120.

Emergency Management Director David Roberge has asked drivers to stay off the roads so that crews can continuing clearing them.

Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno said four town trucks and one sub-contractor are making good progress clearing the town's 40 miles of roads. Eno said he's had no reports of problems in town.

"From what I can gather so far, people are doing what they're supposed to and we're moving the snow," Eno said.

The snow is going to be around for a while, he said.

"It's going to be April before this stuff goes away.

Bone-numbing wind and blinding snow was blowing through downtown New London this morning, creating monstrous drifts and making visibility nearly impossible.

The drift in front of the city’s finance office on Masonic Street was taller than the doorway, and that scene was repeated along Eugene O’Neill Drive, Water Street and other downtown roadways.

Snow blowers arrived at the steps of City Hall just after 6:30 a.m. and stayed for over an hour, cutting just a few feet of walkable sidewalk from State Street to the stairs, which were buried under a two-foot drift. Douglas Henton of the Public Works department said this is some of the worst snow he’s seen in the 26 years he’s lived in this area.

“It’s horrible,” Henton said. “We’ve been here since yesterday, since before the storm started.”

He said the key to staying warm to take frequent breaks in the car.

The only traffic moving seemed to be emergency services vehicles and municipal and private snowplows.

Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio posted an update on his Facebook page about 6 a.m.

“The City has kept all plows running throughout the night and DPW (Department of Public Works) has been keeping pace with the storm,” he wrote.

“We will keep running non-stop until the storm has completely passed. Our plow operators have been doing an amazing job under near white out conditions to keep our main roads open. This work is critical so that we do not fall behind and get overtaken by the storm.”

The mayor reported that the heaviest snowfall and highest wind speeds were expected early this morning and will persist or several hours.

Stonington First Selectman George Crouse reported no power outages or problems this morning.

He said that when he and Police Chief J. Darren Stewart toured the town earlier this morning there were no cars on any of the streets as residents complied with the parking ban.

"That was awesome. It gave us access to all the roads," he said.

He said crews had plowed all streets at least three times but in many cases the wind has blown snow back on the roads.

He said some highway workers were now resting but would soon be back on the job.

Early this morning, he said, a highway department truck transported a nurse to work at Westerly Hospital.

Crouse said he is worried that with the storm winding down in the western part of the state, the state may not qualify for federal disaster aid, leaving the town responsible for all storm costs.

"We have 20 more hours of plowing," he said.

Crouse said the town has received state approval to dump snow in the ocean, which will aid cleanup efforts especially in the borough.

He said that because it is too dangerous to travel, CL & P did sent a liaison to the town's emergency operations center to coordinate any power restoration efforts but will do so if it is needed. The town has not had any power outages.

Stonington Borough Warden Jeff Callahan said the borough's two person crew has been clearing the streets but some outside contractors will be called in "because we have so much snow to get rid of." He said clean up efforts will be aided by state approval to dump snow in the ocean.

He said residents complied with the borough's parking ban and got their cars off the streets.

He said that at this time of the year there is space to do that unlike in the busy summertime.

Callahan said his big concern was that the borough would lose power but so far that has not happened.

Meanwhile groups of children have been sledding this morning on the hill alongside the viaduct.

Ocean Avenue resident Joe Grippo is all but lost in a cloud of blowing snow as he pushes his snowblower the sidewalk in front of his Ocean Avenue home in New London as the blizzard of 2015 bears down on the Northeast and New London Tuesday morning Jan. 26, 2015.
Ocean Avenue resident Joe Grippo is all but lost in a cloud of blowing snow as he pushes his snowblower the sidewalk in front of his Ocean Avenue home in New London as the blizzard of 2015 bears down on the Northeast and New London Tuesday morning Jan. 26, 2015.
Ocean Avenue resident Joe Grippo takes a break from shoveling as he contemplates getting his snowblower out as area residents stay bunkered down in their homes as the blizzard of 2015 bears down on the Northeast and New London Tuesday morning Jan. 26, 2015.
Ocean Avenue resident Joe Grippo takes a break from shoveling as he contemplates getting his snowblower out as area residents stay bunkered down in their homes as the blizzard of 2015 bears down on the Northeast and New London Tuesday morning Jan. 26, 2015.


READER COMMENTS

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POLL

So, how much snow will Southeast Connecticut end up getting by midday Wednesday?

I'm not a betting man/woman.

1%

6 inches to 1 foot

2%

1 foot to 18 inches

9%

18 inches to 2 feet

27%

2 feet to 30 inches

43%

30 inches to 3 feet

8%

This is a bogus exercise because the rules are fluid. Are we talking about snowdrift height too?

6%

How much is a lot?

4%

Number of votes: 371