Tuesday’s storm could drop as much as a foot of snow on the region
A winter storm expected to begin Monday night could drop as much as a foot of snow on parts of the region by the time it ends Tuesday, closing schools, municipal offices and some businesses.
Gary Lessor, chief meteorologist with the Western Connecticut State University Weather Center, said Monday he expects the snowstorm to turn roads into a “sloppy mess.”
“It’s going to be an impactful storm, without a doubt,” he added.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for New London County that will last until 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Lessor said precipitation will start as rain or a mix of rain and snow Monday night before switching to snow, which will continue into mid- to late afternoon Tuesday.
He predicted 5 to 10 inches of “very wet, heavy” snow for the shoreline and 7 to 12 inches for inland parts of the state. Additionally, the storm will bring wind gusts between 40 and 45 mph.
He said the snow will come down heavy at times, and state highway crews “will not be be able to catch up.”
Lessor recommended drivers stay off the roads Tuesday and let crews clear them for Wednesday.
There will be coastal flooding at times of high tide, he added.
“If they don’t need to go out, don’t go out -- stay off the roads,” added Groton City Mayor Keith Hedrick. “Please be safe because the snow will accumulate very quickly, and it will make driving treacherous.”
As of late Monday afternoon, Groton, Stonington, Montville, Preston, New London, North Stonington, Ledyard, Norwich and Waterford had already canceled school on Tuesday. Communities also announced parking bans.
New London Public Works Director Brian Sear said the school closure takes some pressure off the plow drivers since school parking lots are typically the first stop for the plows.
Sear’s and other local public works departments were gearing up Monday for their first major snowstorm of the winter.
“We haven’t had that much practice this year … but it’s a regular drill,” Sear said.
In Groton, Town Manager John Burt said his Public Works Department reports that it is “fully stocked with road salt and all plows are fueled and in ready condition."
"Plow drivers will come in shortly before the snow starts, and we will plow throughout the duration of the storm," Burt said.
Burt said the early morning commute seemed to be where the biggest safety issues would be found.
"I encourage people to drive with extra caution if they have to leave their homes," he added.
City of Groton Mayor Keith Hedrick said trucks were ready and loaded with salt, and that the city would bring crews in the middle of the night as needed based on the intensity of the storm.
Some of the most important factors that go into planning for a storm are when the storm begins, how long it will last and how intense it is, Sear said.
Sear said if there was enough snow to warrant it, New London would use “snow boxes,” which are plows with sides that contain and push snow, in the downtown area. The boxes are used to clean State and Bank streets from curb to curb so piles of plowed snow don’t freeze and obstruct parking. The snow would be pushed to Parade Plaza, he said.
Norwich Public Works Director Patrick McLaughlin said city crews were ready to go after responding to a storm in January that caused heavy rain and flooding. He said his crews have spent winter days clearing storm drains, which will allow the snow to melt.
Slow-melting snow is easier to handle than the heavy rains that overwhelmed storm drains and clogged them with leaves and debris in January, he said.
Norwich Public Utilities Utility Engineer Chris Riley warned strong winds and wet heavy snow could damage power lines, and warned residents to consider any downed power lines as live wires and to report them by calling 911.
In Montville, Mayor Leonard “Lenny” Bunnell said Monday the town’s four fire companies would make the fire stations available as warming shelters where people can charge electronic devices.
Eversource, in a statement Monday, announced it would position additional tree and line crews around the state to quicken the response to damage or outages caused by the storm.
The company said natural gas heating systems could also be affected by the outages, and told residents to keep gas meters and outdoor vents cleared of snow and ice.
Area towns and cities also canceled municipal meetings scheduled for Tuesday, including Norwich, which decided to postpone its meeting for a week rather than move online because of several planned student presentations better done in person.
Day Staff Writers Kimberly Drelich, Greg Smith and Claire Bessette contributed to this report.
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