State Braces For Substantial Snowstorm Thursday

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Text by David Owens; videos by FOX CT’s Angelica Spanos, Jan Carabeo and Joe Furey

A substantial snowstorm is expected to arrive early Thursday and dump steady, heavy snow on the state in time for Thursday morning’s commute. Up to a foot of snow is expected with higher amounts in the northwest hills.

The storm is part of a system that will hit the South with what the National Weather Service has described as potentially catastrophic ice, and then move up the East Coast dumping snow all along the way.

“It’s a nor’easter moving up the coast,” FOX CT meteorologist Joe Furey said Tuesday.

Watch Joe Furey’s latest forecast.

 

Watch Jan Carabeo’s report on how the city of Hartford is preparing for the snowstorm.

The state Department of Transportation has consumed its $30 million snow removal budget, but spokesman Kevin Nursick said that doesn’t mean DOT trucks and contractors won’t be clearing roads. The agency will simply move funds into snow removal.

The storm’s timing is not ideal because it’s scheduled to begin during rush hour. Temperatures projected to be near freezing will enable the snow-melting materials DOT crews apply to roadways to work more effectively, Nursick said.

And DOT is not having any trouble getting salt, he said. “The salt supply is slower this year, but we continue to get supplied, and there’s no risk of us running out of material,” he said.

Flights from Bradley International Airport to some southern destinations, including Atlanta and Charlotte, have already been canceled. More than 1,600 inbound and outbound flights have been canceled in Atlanta and more than 700 in and out of Charlotte.

Airport officials always urge travelers to check with their airlines before heading to the airport.

Furey said that when the storm arrives in Connecticut it will begin with snow, then change over to freezing rain and sleet and then turn back to snow Thursday night. Just when and where those changeovers will occur is not yet certain. The storm will go on for about 24 hours, he said, beginning between 3 and 5 a.m. Thursday and continuing to between 3 and 5 a.m. Friday.

FOX CT Meteorologist Dan Amarante said the rain — 1 to 2 inches could fall — will add considerable weight to roofs already covered with snow. “That going to cause problems,” he said.

Furey forecasted six to 10 inches for most of the state, three to six inches for southeast Connecticut and 10 to 16 inches for the northwest hills and western Massachusetts. The changeover from snow to the wintry mix would reduce snow totals.

Because it’s a coastal storm, it will bring substantial wind along with it, Furey said. Gusts could be in the 30 to 40 mph range.

Connecticut Light & Power Co. said it has prepared and will be ready to respond quickly to any power outages. Power outages can be reported to 800-286-2000. If wires fall, people should assume they are energized and stay at least 10 feet away and call 911 to report them, CL&P said.

The storm’s track will be key, Furey said. If it moves farther to the east, snowfall will be less, he said.

“A little change in track can mean a big difference,” FOX CT meteorologist Rachel Frank said Tuesday night. “So we need to watch the forecast very carefully over the next 24 hours.”

Cities and towns across the state are already announcing parking bans, many which begin at midnight.

Hartford said it will ban street parking to facilitate snow plowing and open school parking lots to cars. Those cars, however, will have to be moved shortly after any parking ban ends so that school property can be cleared of snow to allow schools to reopen.

Public works crews have been preparing for the storm by pushing back snow that’s already fallen and by preparing plow trucks.

“Snowstorms are hard on our equipment,” said John Phillips, West Hartford’s public works director.

In addition to making sure the town’s 24 trucks are ready for Thursday, crews have been clearing snow from places plows normally deposit snow. Twelve contractors are available to assist town crews in West Hartford, Phillips said.

Crews are also working to improve sight lines by pushing back snow piles, he said.

West Hartford spreads a product called ClearLane on roads to melt ice and snow and has plenty on hand, despite high demand elsewhere in the country because of snowstorms, Phillips said.

“We have plenty to get through this storm,” he said. “It’s been tough getting resupplied.”

The state Department of Transportation has consumed its $30 million snow removal budget, but spokesman Kevin Nursick said that doesn’t mean DOT trucks and contractors won’t be clearing roads. The agency will simply move funds into snow removal.

The storm’s timing is not ideal because it’s scheduled to grow in strength during rush hour. Temperatures projected to be near freezing will enable the snow-melting materials DOT crews apply to roadways to work more effectively, Nursick said.

And DOT is not having any trouble getting salt, he said. “The salt supply is slower this year, but we continue to get supplied, and there’s no risk of us running out of material,” he said.

There have been salt shortages reported after recent storms, including on Long Island.

The state has 632 state plow trucks and 200 private contractors available to plow and treat roads, Nursick said. Snow clearing typically costs the state about $100,000 an hour, he said.

Watch Angelica Spanos’ report on how the state Department of Transportation is preparing for the snowstorm.

 

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