Snow pummels southeastern Connecticut

The third nor'easter to hit Connecticut in less than two weeks brought up to 18 inches of snow to some towns and cities in the southeastern part of the state Tuesday.

North Stonington got 18 inches, while New London and Waterford both got 17.5 inches, according to Western Connecticut State University meteorologist Gary Lessor. There were 16.8 inches of snow recorded in Ledyard center, and at least 16 inches in Norwich. The snow, which had started trailing off earlier in the evening, was expected to completely stop by midnight Tuesday, he said.

Lower than usual temperatures for March are expected to continue for the next week, with the possibility — "it's a 50-50 shot" — of a coastal storm bringing snow to the area again on Tuesday into Wednesday, he said.

Precipitation began as rain about 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday and quickly changed to snow. As it fell faster than 2 inches per hour Tuesday morning and afternoon, Lessor hiked his forecast for southeastern Connecticut from 8-16 inches to 10-18 inches, then again to 12-24 inches.

Connecticut State Police said accidents and road conditions closed Interstate 95 northbound from East Lyme to Waterford, though it was reopened by 3 p.m. I-95 northbound was closed for about two hours at Exit 91 in Stonington, due to a jackknifed tractor-trailer.

Between 4 a.m. and 4 p.m., state police reported 810 calls for service, 75 accidents without injuries, two accidents with injuries, zero fatalities and 170 motorist assists.

Visibility was about three-tenths of a mile, and wind gusts of at least 43 mph were measured in Groton and New London, Lessor said. The fastest winds to hit New England by mid-day Tuesday were 76 mph in Barnstable, Mass., on Cape Cod. Locally, winds brought down trees along Route 32 in New London.

School districts in southeastern Connecticut were closed on Tuesday, and state offices were closed for nonessential first-shift employees. All Amtrak service between Boston and New York City was suspended, as was Southeast Area Transit District bus service.

Grappling with outages

As of 7:15 p.m., Eversource reported more than 250 power outages in Ledyard, more than 300 in North Stonington and more than 100 in Preston.

Mitch Gross, a spokesman with Eversource, confirmed at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday that the company also was investigating a distribution line down over the Connecticut River between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme. No customers were affected by it, he said. During the second of last week’s nor’easters, two 23,000-volt power lines broke free and went down over the river in the same area.

Ledyard Mayor Fred Allyn III said there had been outages on Colonel Ledyard Highway, Avery Hill Road and Church Hill Road. He noted that the town already has overspent its winter operations budget for public works and previously requested the Finance Committee appropriate an additional $75,000 to address future snowfall.

In Norwich, Public Works Director Ryan Thompson said the $5,000 remaining in the budget at the start of the storm was shot. The materials budget is in better shape, he said, with more than $100,000 in the coffers before the start of the storm.

In North Stonington, the emergency operations center received a call about an ambulance getting stuck in the snow, and the fire department went out to assist. Gary Baron, emergency management director for the town, advised residents to call 911 if they come across downed power lines, instructing them to not drive over or around the lines.

In Stonington, the majority of outages occurred around Al Harvey Road, Selectman John Prue said in a 2 p.m. update on YouTube. This resulted from wires coming down about 1 p.m.

The town also on Tuesday dealt with a downed tree on Jerry Browne Road that forced police to close the road between Mistuxet Avenue and Pequotsepos Road, Emergency Management Director George Brennan said. Another downed tree partially blocked Route 184 near Lantern Hill Road.

In Groton, Route 1 was closed between Flanders Road and Bel Aire Drive on Tuesday afternoon for downed wires.

Steve Fields, chief administrative officer in New London, said the city has handed out about 200 parking tickets and towed 17 vehicles whose owners did not adhere to a winter parking ban that went into effect on Tuesday morning.

In Montville, where last week's storm knocked out power for 97 percent of Eversource customers, 27 people on Raymond Hill Road lost power about 10 a.m. But Raymond Occhialini, the town's fire marshal and emergency management director, said it was restored within an hour.

Salem First Selectman Kevin Lyden said between a cold January with icy storms, a mild February and a stormy March, "It's been a different winter than last year, that's for sure."

Some brave business owners

Downtown traffic in New London was scarce as wet, heavy snow piled up in the afternoon. On Bank Street, almost every business displayed a "Sorry, we're closed" sign in the door.

But not the Fog Factory, the vape shop run by Joshua Banks. As of noon, Banks and coworker Devan Lanham had helped just one customer. Banks hoped deals posted on Facebook and Instagram would inspire more to brave the storm.

"I don't have any excuses not to come to work," Banks said, noting he drives a monster jeep. "We're open 365 days."

The back-to-back-to-back nor'easters were a chilly welcome for Katie Corley, who moved to New London from Texas about a year ago and now works at Thames River Greenery. The combination flower, wine, cheese and coffee shop was open for business Tuesday, with Corley and other workers living within walking distance.

"This is a whole new world for me," she said, laughing. "There's definitely some seasonal depression going on."

Libby Nye, a dance instructor who owns the Bank Street building that houses Flavours of Life, the fair trade store, used the weather as an excuse to stall a bit before finishing some chores.

"I haven't done this since I was a kid," she said, gathering a snowball from the curb and looking ready to pounce on passersby, but there were none. "This would be great for a snowman."

Day Staff Writers Julia Bergman, Charles Clark, Kimberly Drelich, Claire Bessette, Joe Wojtas and Greg Smith contributed to this report.

Snow totals

Snow totals were not available for all the towns in the region but were for the following towns:

North Stonington: 18 inches

New London: 17.5 inches

Waterford: 17.5 inches 

Ledyard center: 16.8 inches

Norwich: 16 inches

Source: Western Connecticut State meteorologist Gary Lessor


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