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Snow causes accidents, closures throughout region

The first real snow of the season has come but the region got off relatively lightly.

A constant stream of precipitation beginning on Sunday finally subsided Tuesday afternoon. Western Connecticut State University meteorologist Gary Lessor offered Tuesday's snow totals: Norwich saw about 6 inches; Pawcatuck, 4.4 inches; Mystic, 2 to 4.4 inches; Uncasville, 3.8 inches; Stonington, 2.5 to 3.5 inches; Ledyard, 3.5 inches; East Lyme, 2.8 inches; Old Lyme, 2.5 inches; Niantic, 2.5 inches, and New London, 2 inches.

Forecasts don't predict more snow in southeastern Connecticut's immediate future, he added.

With about 800 trucks out plowing roads across the state, and schools and some businesses staying closed, Tuesday's morning commute was mostly uneventful. The largest problem came on Route 117 between Sandy Hollow and Lambtown Road in Ledyard, which was closed due to an accident that took down a utility pole, police said. There were no injuries.

Elsewhere, Capt. Todd Olson of Stonington police said there were seven minor accidents in town but no road closures. East Lyme police mentioned two minor accidents and no road closures. While there were no accidents or road closures in Waterford, a parking ban was in effect on town roadways.

According to the state Department of Transportation, an accident near Exit 83 and Huntington Street was cleared in about 15 minutes in New London in the morning. Police Capt. Brian Wright said there were no accidents of significance, and no roads had to be closed.

Groton Deputy Chief Paul Gately said there were no road closures or significant accidents, although traffic headed to the Naval Submarine Base on Route 12 was slowed by the weather. 

About 50 schools, municipal buildings and other organizations announced closures or delays throughout the region Tuesday.

Look out for plows

State Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick said plow trucks — more than 800 combined between the state and private contractors — were out trying to prevent any incidents since Sunday. He said the timing of the snow overnight meant plows could work mostly unbothered because there wasn't much traffic.

Nursick described the plow operation with information pertinent for future snowstorms. He said drivers should watch for "close echelon plowing formations," which are when multiple trucks are working together at the same speed. These happen only on highways, and they take up the entire width of the roadway to clear snow quicker.

At the head of these formations, and sometimes in other situations, drivers could see a tow plow, which involves a plow towed behind the plow truck that can clear a 26-foot path. The state has 14 tow plows and expects to receive 10 more around the new year. Nursick also mentioned winged plows, which have plows on the front, right and left of trucks, one of which was plowing Interstate 95 in eastern Connecticut on Tuesday morning.

"Motorists should not be attempting to pass plowing formations," Nursick said. "We keep it in a close echelon formation to help discourage people from trying to pass, but inevitably someone tries a couple times a season. The amount of snow coming from plow trucks, it is like the gauntlet of destruction. There's no hope you're going to make it."

s.spinella@theday.com

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