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Power restored in most of region

Though hundreds of homes lost power in southeastern Connecticut due to snow and strong wind gusts today, Connecticut Light & Power is reporting power has been restored to most homes in the region.

CL&P Spokesman Mitch Gross said he had an unofficial report of 50 mph-plus wind gust by the Groton Lighthouse.

Amtrak trains along the Northeast Corridor were also canceled, leaving Union Station quiet this morning.

Bob and Jane Boisse, a retired couple from Plainfield, had their 7:52 a.m. train to New York's Pennsylvania Station canceled and they consequently missed their connection on a sleeper to West Palm Beach.

"We were going there to visit our daughter," Jane Boisse said. "We like to take the sleeper train."

The Boisses said they were going to rebook their trip from the comfort of their home later today.

"We're waiting for our other daughter to pick us up and we're heading home," Bob Boisse said.

So for the meantime, Jane dipped into "The Girl Who Played With Fire," and Bob thought about venturing around downtown New London in search of a cup of coffee.

"You have to keep a good attitude on days like this," Jane Boisee said.

Joseph Celli, manager of the Water Street Parking Garage, said more New London residents are taking advantage of the free parking available there during snowstorms.

"We got a few calls about it," Celli said. "We'll have a better idea of how many we have tomorrow afternoon."

New London residents may park their cars for free at the garage, but must show proof of residency when leaving after the city parking ban is lifted.

Celli said there has been better communication of late between the garage, the police departments and residents about the complementary parking.

Celli said 14 people took advantage of the free parking during the winter storm parking ban over the weekend.

Celli said the snowstorm provided an opportunity to get some work done, without of the noise of traffic passing by.

"I love these kinds of days," Celli said. "Each snowstorm is so unique."

Roads were worse this morning than they were overnight due to icy conditions, said Joe Sastre, Groton's emergency management director.

"For a little while, we were getting some mix, and then some rain," Sastre said. "Now we're getting some snow, and it's starting to blow. And because of that rain, everything is icing up. So the roads are worse now than they were than they were three or four hours ago. My suggestion to everybody is to enjoy the snow from the indoors."

That rain, combined with wind that is now blowing the top layer of snow off the roads, is leaving many roads covered with ice.

"If it hadn't rained, we'd be in a hell of a lot better place than we are now," Sastre said.

Plows were out in Groton starting at about 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Sastre said.

"They were able to stay out ahead of the snow for the most part, even though it was coming down at 3 inches an hour for some parts of the night," Sastre said. "I think by now every road has been hit once, but some of those side streets might still be pretty much impassable."

By the time it's done, the storm will have dumped one to two feet of snow across the state, said Bill Jacquemin, chief meteorologist at the Connecticut Weather Center in Danbury.

The cold temperatures made the snow fluffier, Jacquemin said, meaning accumulations were higher.

At about 8:30 a.m., the heaviest snow was starting to move out of western Connecticut, said Jacquemin, who said he expected the storm to end by early afternoon in southeastern Connecticut and will then transition to snow showers.

And despite appearing worse than last month's blizzard, Wednesday's storm did not classify as such, Jacquemin said.

For the storm to be a blizzard, we would need three hours' worth of winds of 35 mph along with heavy, blowing snow that reduces visibility.

"We didn't have them paired together," Jacquemin said. "Because they're going to be separated, we're getting all of the ingredients coming in separate parts."

Still, snowfall amounts in some parts of the state will rival those of the state's biggest storms, he said.

"In Danbury, it's getting close to blowing away the Blizzard of '78 because it's close to two feet," Jacquemin said. "And that (1978) took two days. This is not even a day."

Jacquemin said the snow started at about 9 p.m. Tuesday, dumping two feet in less than 12 hours.

By about 6 a.m., he said, Stonington had about 8½ inches of snow, Ledyard and Groton had seven inches of snow, and Gales Ferry had seven.

As the wind picks up this morning, New London will see wind gusts of 32 mph. The gusts will create snowdrifts of two to four feet, Jacquermin said.

"Tomorrow morning will not be a picnic," he said.

By 7 a.m. today, state police had received just under 500 calls for service and reported 28 accidents statewide, according to state police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance.

While plows have gotten to the highways, a number of exit and entrance ramps were still covered. The speed limit "may be 20 miles per hour," Vance said.

Vance said there are spinouts and jackknifed tractor-trailer trucks blocking ramps around the state. No one area is better or worse, Vance said.

"The entire state's getting whacked," he said.

Norwich's smaller tow trucks are having trouble handling the snow and some are breaking down or getting stuck, but city officials report few problems with the nearly 1 foot of heavy wet snow and sleet that fell overnight.

Snowfall turned light this morning as winds kicked up.

"A few trees are hanging over roads, and our trucks can't get through," said Public Works Superintendent Angelo Yietz. "We're sending crews out to trim them back."

Plows also are having trouble clearing narrow urban streets where cars remain parked along the street. Yeitz said crews will have to return to some streets after the storm to do more snow clearing.

"We're having trouble in some places, because there's nowhere to put it," Yeitz said.

Greeneville and some areas of downtown are problem spots, he said.

Norwich Public Utilities General Manager John Bilda said as of 10 a.m., there were no power failures in the city. Bilda sent crews to a few locations where trees were leaning on wires and causing the wires to sag.

The Rose City Senior Center remains on standby as an emergency shelter, but Emergency Management Director Gene Arters said it hasn't been needed yet.

The state Department of Transportation said all of its 632 trucks plus 220 contractor trucks were out clearing the roads.

With that manpower, it costs $85,000 an hour to clear the roads, according to DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick.

Nursick said the timing of the storm, hitting overnight rather than during the workday, has helped crews to plow.

"The timing of the storm thus far has helped us to stay on top of the roads," he said. "This thing has really put down a lot of snow overnight and obviously overnight there aren't many people on the roads so we definitely got a head start despite the fact that it's been coming down (at a rate of) a couple inches an hour."

In Stonington police say there were no accidents this morning. Around the borough, where about seven inches of wet snow has fallen, crews have cleared roads and they are passable. Town officials and police are slated to meet at 9 a.m. at the police station to partially open the town's emergency operations center.

East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica said Town Hall was open but had limited staffing.

Formica said this morning he will be on his way into his office and putting his 4x4 truck to good use, but asked that most residents stay home.

"It's good day to hunker down and watch a good movie," Formica said.

Ledyard police responded to one motor vehicle accident without injuries, plus eight vehicles that were disabled due to snow conditions. Police asked people to stay off the roads to allow state and local crews to clear the roadways.

Waterford First Selectman Daniel Steward said Town Hall is open but many of the offices are not staffed.

Steward said residents should stay off the roads unless they absolutely must venture out.

"The roads are terrible," Steward said. "The intersections can be ugly."

Steward said plows will continue to work throughout the storm without let up.

The Associated Press is reporting that Bradley International Airport remained open during the winter storm, but no passenger planes were coming in or going out.

Airport spokesman John Wallace said several cargo flights were arriving Wednesday, but passenger airlines were not expecting to begin flying until much later in the day.

He said the airport normally has between 40 and 45 aircraft at the airport to start the day, but just a handful were there Wednesday morning.

Wallace said the airport planned intermittent closings during the morning, allowing plow crews to clear the main runway for cargo planes and any emergency flights.

Snowfall totals

Snowfall totals across the state according to the National Weather Service, with the time the measurement was taken.

NORWICH: 16.0 11 AM
LISBON: 14.5 1155 AM
GROTON: 14 1100 AM
NIANTIC: 13.0 730 AM

Elsewhere in the state
NEWTOWN: 27.0 840 AM
DANBURY: 23.9 10 AM
NORWALK: 16.0 934 AM
GREENWICH : 14.5 800 AM
STAMFORD: 14.0 800 AM
DEEP RIVER: 20.0 11 AM
WESTBROOK: 17.3 1035 AM
CLINTON: 17.0 800 AM
HADDAM: 16.0 11 AM
NORTH HAVEN: 29.5 1120 AM
NEW HAVEN: 19.0 11 AM
GUILFORD: 17.0 907 AM
MADISON: 16.0 1130 AM


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