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After days of anticipation, CT relishes first snowstorm of the season

UConn students Malin Rahm (left) and Sophie Coughlin take a tumble down a campus hill while trying to fit in a sled made from a plastic bag. Up to 12-inches of snow are forecasted for parts of the Connecticut in the region’s first snow of the season.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
UConn students Malin Rahm (left) and Sophie Coughlin take a tumble down a campus hill covered with fresh snow January 07, 2024. Up to 12-inches of snow are forecasted for parts of the Connecticut in the region’s first snow of the season.

Snow swept across Connecticut this weekend, leaving residents to brush off cars, shovel sidewalks, and have some fun during the state’s first major snowstorm in more than a year.

Northwest parts of the state saw more than a foot of snow, with accumulations along the Interstate 84 corridor hovering around 6 to 10 inches. On the coast, accumulations were more modest.

Despite winds and heavy snow, power outages were minimal, with only a handful of Eversource customers remaining without power as of Sunday night.

Several closings and Monday school delays have been announced. Check out the latest delays and closings before heading out. Hartford Public Schools is among several districts operating on a two-hour delay.

Snowfall totals vary across CT

Snow fell heaviest overnight Saturday into Sunday, bringing at least 5 inches to parts of central and northwestern Connecticut. A second round of snow hit the state Sunday afternoon and boosted totals.

In the northwestern town of Barkhamstead, snow totals surpassed more than 12 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Many cities and towns in Hartford, Tolland and Windham counties saw 6 to 10 inches of snow. Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks recorded nearly 10 inches.

Inland sections of New Haven, Middlesex and New London Counties saw 3 to 6 inches. Along the coast, a mix of precipitation led to accumulations of only a few inches in cities like Bridgeport.

Despite the weekend storm, the NWS says its eastern climate stations are still running below normal snowfall for the season.

Finding time for fun in the snow

Many people took the opportunity to carve out some time for winter sports this weekend.

At Mt. Southington Ski Resort in Plantsville, general manager Jay Dougherty said even though resorts can manufacture their own snow, weather like this is good for business.

“It's kind of like the best advertising for us. I would guess we have somewhere between 1,700 and 2,000 people out on the hill right now,” he said, compared to a thousand to 1,500 daily skiers they have had so far this season.

Dougherty said he’s optimistic about business over the next couple of months.

“The ski industry, starting in the pandemic, saw a huge spike in growth. It was one of the few activities people could actually get outside and do while practicing social distancing. So it kind of gave a boost to the industry as a whole. And we're still kind of seeing that: people that learned to ski throughout the pandemic," he said. "They're still coming out."

Power outages minimal

Weather officials warned that heavy wet snow could lead to power outages, but as of Sunday night, the impacts on the electric grid were minimal.

Only a handful of Eversource customers remained without power as of Sunday evening. Earlier in the afternoon, Eversource was reporting about 1,500 outages. United Illuminating reported no outages.

Gov. Ned Lamont said Friday utility companies would have extra line crews working this weekend in the event of any downed power lines and outages.

A tree did come down in West Hartford Sunday morning, leading to an outage affecting about 6% of the town’s customers, according to WFSB-TV. Power was restored to most customers in town by Sunday evening.

Drivers urged to avoid travel

A Town of Mansfield plow clears Gurleyville Road, January 07, 2024.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
A Town of Mansfield plow clears Gurleyville Road, January 07, 2024. Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Club Alliance, said in a statement. "While some vehicles are better equipped for snowy roadways, no vehicle or set of tires can prevent skidding on slick roadways."

Lamont said residents can help with storm clean up by doing one thing: Stay home.

"Stay off the roads," Lamont said. "[It] makes it a lot easier, quicker and safer for us to get the roads plowed."

Still, officials warn, even a dusting of snow can make roads treacherous.

"With mild winters the last few years it is critical that drivers be reminded that they need to adjust to the conditions," Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Club Alliance, said in a statement. "While some vehicles are better equipped for snowy roadways, no vehicle or set of tires can prevent skidding on slick roadways."

AAA recommends drivers prepare a winter emergency kit. That can include a snow shovel, ice scraper, jumper cables, extra warm clothing and blankets — along with drinking water and non-perishable snacks for people (and any pet passengers).

DOT deals with staffing shortages before the storm

Across the state, hundreds of plow trucks were available to clear the roads, said Garrett Eucalitto, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation.

But a shortage of DOT plow truck drivers and contractors means it will take longer to clean up, he said.

"We're short about a quarter of our contractors this year," Eucalitto said. "It's just a difficult job market, I think they're having difficulty filling positions, just like we are."

Drivers should stay off the roads, but if they have to travel, Eucalitto said, be patient and give plows the space to do their work.

Let it snow, let it snow

Here's a sampling of snowfall totals in cities across Connecticut, according to the National Weather Service:

Hartford County
Simsbury: 12.5 inches
Burlington: 11.3 inches
North Granby: 10 inches
Bradley International Airport: 9.8 inches
Southington: 7.6 inches
Wethersfield: 5 inches

Tolland County
Columbia: 8.5 inches
Hebron: 7 inches

Windham County
Killingly: 9 inches
Willimantic: 6.2 inches

Fairfield County
Greenwich: 4.5 inches
Danbury: 4.4 inches
Stamford: 3.5 inches
Darien: 3 inches
Norwalk: 3 inches
Bridgeport: 2-3 inches

New Haven County
Cheshire: 5 inches
North Haven: 4.2 inches
Meriden: 3 inches
New Haven: 2.1 inches
Milford: 1.2 inches

New London County
Norwich: 2-3 inches
Mystic: 1.8 inches
New London: .8 inches

Middlesex County
Cromwell: 6.5 inches
Middlefield: 3 inches
Killingworth: 1.7 inches

Connecticut Public's Kay Perkins and Eddy Martinez contributed to this report.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.
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