Snow adds up to some big numbers in New London

Three weeks ago southeastern Connecticut was cold and dark, but it lacked one obvious sign of the season: snow.

Since the morning of Jan. 26, when the first flurries of what would become a significant blizzard began to fall, Mother Nature has dropped as much as 34.8 inches of snow on parts of the region, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

For some perspective, the average height of a 2-year-old boy is 36.2 inches, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and the NHL's Stanley Cup stands 35.25 inches tall.

The 34.8-inch snow measurement, taken at the Norwich Public Utilities plant, tops the previous record for total snowfall accumulation by Feb. 10 in a calendar year, which was set at 33.9 inches in 2005.

Closer to the shoreline, 30.5 inches of snow has been deposited in Groton, according to data the state Department of Transportation provided to the National Weather Service.

In New London, the series of snowstorms has prompted six snow days for New London Public Schools, clogged side streets and kept city officials busy.

Some of the storms's effects on New London can be tallied up as follows:

17 - Number of property owners who have received a verbal warning from the New London Police Department for failure to shovel their sidewalks.

"Due to the amount of snow and the frequency and number of storms, police have been issuing verbal warning for this type of violation," Acting Police Chief Peter Reichard said. "Police resources have been working with the Public Works Department to open up streets and open roadways, which take priority over the enforcement of clearing sidewalks."

Reichard said that when officers can focus on enforcing the city ordinance that requires property owners to keep sidewalks clear, they pay closest attention to properties near the city's schools to ensure that students have a safe way to walk to school.

155 - Number of parking complaints filed with the police department since Jan. 26.

50 - Number of cars towed at the direction of NLPD since Jan. 26.

$88 - Minimum charge to the owner of a car towed for violation of city parking restrictions.

66 - Number of parking tickets issued by police for violation of city parking restrictions since Jan. 26

$25 - Minimum fine associated with a parking ticket issued for violation of city parking restrictions.

87 - Total number of hours the city's downtown parking ban was in effect, over the course of two separate periods.

As a rule, the city tries to begin a parking ban at least five hours before snowfall is expected to give the police three hours to coordinate the removal or towing of vehicles, officials said.

"The last thing we want to do is tow people. That's the last resort," Capt. Todd Bergeson said last week. "But after three hours and all that work, we have no other option because Public Works is coming with their vehicles."

That lead time also allows the Public Works Department two hours to coat the roads with a salt solution that helps prevent the snow from sticking to asphalt.

"Without the parking ban, you've got parked cars that are inhibiting the approach of these large trucks that are trying to get in, and it just can't be done," said Dave Denoia, parks and ground maintenance manager. "It makes it smoother so that we can get our pre-treating done more completely and then be plowing the minute the snow starts."

126 - Miles of road that must be cleared by the city's Department of Public Works, counting two lanes on each road.

11 - Number of large plow trucks available to Public Works.

15 - Weight, in tons, of one Department of Public Works plow truck "fully loaded" with sand, according to Denoia.

1986 - Model year of the city's oldest plow trucks.

15 - Number of Public Works employees licensed to drive one of the city's large plow trucks.

130 - Average workweek, in hours, of Public Works highway division employees the week of Jan. 26, according to Denoia.

With about 37 days left until the end of winter, southeastern Connecticut may not be out of the woods just yet and more snow could be headed this way later this week.

6 - Inches of snow that could fall in New London by Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

c.young@theday.com

Twitter: @ColinAYoung



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