HARTFORD, Conn. (AP/CBS New York) — A major winter storm blasted parts of Connecticut on Wednesday, shutting down schools and businesses and slowing travel to a crawl.
Gov. Dan Malloy, who declared a civil preparedness emergency before the snow began to fall, asked all nonessential state employees working the day shift to stay home. He also asked private businesses to follow the state’s lead.
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“We got hammered,” Ridgefield resident Joanne Loftus told CBS 2’s Lou Young. “My husband was up at 4:30 plowing. He thinks we got about 22 inches.”
The declaration of a snow emergency was no overreaction. The few motorists that did venture out found out the hard way that they should’ve stayed home.
“It’s pretty bad. I talked to this guy and asked him if he would be able to let me a hand. I got the plow guy’s attention. He’s over here trying to help me. I’m just trying to get out of here. The 84’s going to be decent as far as the snow goes, but the visibility is terrible,” said stranded motorist Rob Catellano.
“It seems that we have experienced a very major snow event, but not one that will cripple us,” Malloy said.
Nearly 500 incidents had been reported on state roads, the vast majority involving spin outs and stranded vehicles with only a couple dozen accidents. State police Lt. J. Paul Vance said conditions were treacherous and many highway ramps were impassible. But he said no highways had been closed.
“You can maybe get on the highway, but you might have trouble getting off,” he said. “This is a really dangerous situation.”
Richard Delgaudio of Rocky Hill took time out from his drive into work at Connecticut Light & Power to help push a stranded motorist who got stuck in a foot of snow in the middle of an intersection in Hartford.
“It’s tough to even see out there,” he said, adding that he could not even recognize his highway exit.
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Traffic on Interstate 84 into Hartford was light with commuters following one another in single file through the blowing snow.
Jeff Adams, a storm monitor with the state Department of Transportation said there was up to 3 inches of snow in the travel lanes of most highways Wednesday morning, but the Interstates remained open.
He said the plows could not keep up with snow that was falling at a rate of about 3 inches an hour during what would have been the morning rush hour. He said accidents also were hampering the removal effort.
“We get the cars back up behind these accidents and now our trucks can’t get through there and that portion of the road becomes very poor,” he said.
By the time the storm ended on Wednesday the National Weather Service reported 19 inches of snow in Manchester, 22 inches in Ridgefield, and 24 inches in Danbury.
The mayor of Danbury even shut his city down so plows could get ahead of the accumulation – a highly unusual action he’d taken just last week for the previous storm.
“We closed the city for the morning rush, and again, it’s the second time I’ve done this in a week and a half, unfortunately,” Mayor Mark Boughton said. “[It’s] the first time in ten years, but, you know, it was a pretty serious situation.”
The snowy winter hasn’t busted the budget yet, but Mayor Boughton is hoping that – at least for the time being – he can stop, sit down, take a breather and hope the rest of the season works out a little better.
“We’ve had over 40 inches, which equals about the total we get in a typical winter — about $25,000 an inch during the week, $35,000 an inch on the weekend,” he said.
Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass., said he expected up to two feet of snow to fall in the Hartford area.
Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks remained open, but was closing periodically to clear the main runway.
Airport spokesman John Wallace said only a handful of the 45 planes normally at the airport were there to start the day, and passenger service was nonexistent.
“We do have some cargo planes coming in, and we are keeping the runway open for them and for emergency flights,” he said. “But we don’t expect any passenger planes to be in or out of here until much later in the day.”
Some people had no choice but to go out into the storm.
Josh Clukey, 24, of Eastford, left home with his pregnant wife Jamie shortly after 1:30 a.m. when her water broke.
It took them almost an hour to make what would normally have been a 25-minute drive to Windham Hospital in Willimantic.
“I was a little nervous,” Clukey said. “There was maybe only about 6 inches on the roads at the time, but the plows hadn’t come out yet. It was a little scary. It was dark and the snow was blowing all over the place. I drove really slow.”
Ryland James Clukey was born at 8:42 a.m.
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