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Governor Dannel Malloy said, “If you don’t have to be on the road, don’t be on the road,” as he warned residents to prepare for heavy wet snow that could fall at rates of three inches per hour later Wednesday afternoon March 7 in Newtown and throughout the western Connecticut region.
As a result, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal closed municipal offices and sent non-essential staff home at noon.
Gov Malloy partially activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center at 11 am and said it will remain open into the evening as hundreds of responders, plow drivers, line workers, tree resources, and others gear up for a tough rush hour and evening of answering calls for help and working to keep roads open and safe.
As early as 10:30 am, state DOT signs along Interstate 84 were flashing news of a statewide truck ban for all of New York through the duration of the storm event, and it was unclear how that might affect truck traffic on state roads near New York borders.
The governor said all Connecticut courts would be closed by 1 pm, and that all state agencies are staggering the release of nonessential first shift workers to ease traffic flow in the Hartford area. He also instructed all nonessential second shift state workers to stay home and off the roads.
According to Gov Malloy, the timing of this storm will make travel “treacherous” through the afternoon and evening, as most areas of the state will eventually be digging out from 8 to 14 inches of heavy, wet snow. He said areas closer to Newtown, and in the “northwest hills,” could see areas of heavier accumulations.
The governor said Southwestern Connecticut is expected to feel the brunt of the storm by late afternoon, and to expect snow falling at 1 to 3 inches per hour for periods, tapering down between 10 pm and midnight and ending by early morning Thursday.
He said rush hour travelers Wednesday should be ready for heavy, wet snow falling and resulting in very low visibility.
Gov Malloy urged employers to allow anyone able to work at home to do so, keeping traffic off the roads so plows can work safely. And he said areas of the state would experience up to 50 MPH wind gusts, especially along the coast.
He reminded residents that while hundreds of utility workers and tree clearing assets are standing by if lines go down, bucket trucks cannot be employed when wind gusts top 30 MPH. The governor said to expect power outages and minor coastal flooding, while appealing to state residents to check on elderly neighbors, and to call 2-1-1 Infoline if any nonemergency assistance is needed.
Gov Malloy also warned residents to be careful with any emergency heating and cooking devices, to be sure to ventilate when any generators are in use, to clear outdoor vents, and to take note of and shovel out any local fire hydrants if possible.
Commuters should check MTA schedules for cancellations of any buses or trains, adding that some trains would be reverting to one-hour service after 8 pm tonight. Bradley International Airport is open and expected to continue operating, but Gov Malloy said many flights were canceled, so travelers should call their carrier for details.
He asked drivers who had to be on the road later in the day to give the 634 DOT plows and 200-plus plowing contractors plenty of room — and to stay behind them. And he said state National Guard personnel as well as additional State Police units would be on duty and responding as needed through the storm event.
Eversource, Newtown’s electrical utility provider, reminds customers to keep a storm kit maintained with essential items including water, non-perishable food and pet food, as well as adequate medical supplies and prescriptions for each family member and any pets.
The company also suggests customers keep all wireless communication devices fully-charged in case of a power outage.
Customers should always stay clear of downed wires and to report them immediately to 9-1-1. They can report an outage online at www.eversource.com, or by calling 800-286-2000.
Those who signed up for the company’s two-way texting feature can send a text to report an outage and receive outage updates as they happen.
Gov Malloy said further updates would be forthcoming as the storm progresses.