Weekend Blizzard Was One For The Books

Blizzard Nemo is one for the record books. Seven of Connecticut’s eight counties reported record-breaking levels of snow, said Governor Dannel P. Malloy during an evening press conference at the state armory on Saturday, February 9.

Preliminary maximum snowfall and wind gusts for Fairfield County were announced as 35 inches and 82 miles per hour, respectively, as of 12:45 pm Saturday.

The lightest snowfall average was in Litchfield County, with 23 inches; the highest snowfall average was in New Haven County, with 38 inches of snow. Fairfield County’s maximum wind gust was the highest of those reported; a 43 mph gust in Hartford was the lowest registered at that hour.

Snow began falling in Newtown around 8 am Friday, and continued for approximately 24 hours.

Newtown Director of Emergency Communications Maureen Will said early afternoon Saturday, February 9, that town crews continued to clear roadways of the snow that fell all day Friday and during the overnight of Friday into Saturday, February 8–9.

The one report posted by the National Weather Service gives 17 inches as the reported snowfall for Newtown, but residents would certainly disagree with that number. The Bee received reports from around town of anywhere from two to four feet being on the ground, but steady wind and occasional drifts have some places buried in deeper piles of snow. Depths of 18 inches were reported in Hawleyville, while other locations, including Loveland Drive in Sandy Hook, had 36 inches of snow. The average seemed to be between two to three feet across town.

“The crews are still out, and fire and EMS stations continue to be staffed,” said Ms Will. “The town is fairly calm, thanks to the travel ban.”

Gov Malloy had issued a series of increasingly tighter travels bans within the state beginning at noon Friday. The state’s highways were closed at noon that day. At 4 pm that afternoon, a ban on motor vehicle travel on limited access highways in the state went into effect. By 7 am Saturday, however, the governor ordered all roads in Connecticut closed, a full ban that remained in place for nine hours.

“However,” he cautioned, “do not go on roads” unless necessary. “They are not as safe” as they could be, he said. “There is a lot of blowing snow, and many of the entrances and exits are still not accessible,” he said. “Discourage your loved ones from going on the road tonight.”

The governor reminded residents that snowmobiles and ATVs are not to be used on the state’s roads.

“Please don’t go out on the roads with these machines,” he said. “There is very limited space out there. There are no breakdown lanes.

“Putting those out there ... is illegal, and ... it’s dangerous to those on such machines and for others,” he said.

As of 6 pm, approximately 35,000 CL&P customers in the state remained without power, and another 220 United Illuminating customers were also without power. Newtown seemed to get lucky with this storm. No power outages were reported. While other towns worried about dropping temperatures and opened heating/warming centers for Saturday’s overnight, Newtown officials did not have to take such precautions.

Connecticut State Police responded to approximately 3,000 calls for help between Friday morning and Saturday evening, including 600 accidents, the governor said. Five deaths across the state were attributed to the storm, he reported.

The governor was grateful, he said, that so many people listened to his warnings to stay off the roads for 28 hours. He was upset, he said, at the number of vehicles he saw while he was moving around the state on Saturday. Many of those vehicles, he said, appeared to have been out during the height of the storm.

“That amazes me,” he said. “By and large people listened, to a greater extent that ever before, but there is always someone who has to go out.”

Ms Will noted that most Newtown residents also listened to the governor’s words.

“As long as people heed that ban, things will remain calm,” she said early Saturday afternoon.

She had seen, she said, a few cars that seemed to be out on the roads unnecessarily, including one vehicle “with about two feet of snow on its roof.”

Newtown’s schools were closed on Monday, following forecasts of freezing rain. The closures also allowed town crews to continue with much-needed road clearing.

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