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Officials Urging Caution Ahead of Winter Storm; Weekend Plans Already Changing

Published: January 18, 2019 at 10:50 am

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UPDATE (Friday, January 18, 2019): This story has been updated to include the National Weather Service Winter Storm Warning issued Friday afternoon. Two graphics from the National Weather Service have also been added. 

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Governor Ned Lamont is urging Connecticut residents to be prepared as the first significant winter storm of the season is forecast to impact the state Saturday night through Sunday. The National Weather Service (NWS) Friday put a large swath of the country under a series of Winter Storm Warnings. The warning that covers Newtown, issued at 3:19 pm, indicates heavy mixed precipitation is expected. 

The warning will be in effect from noon Saturday, January 18, through 6 pm Sunday, January 20. 

"Total snow accumulations of 6 to 10 inches and ice accumulations of around one tenth of an inch expected," the statement read in part. "Travel could be very difficult," it added, for portions of northeast New Jersey, southern Connecticut and the lower Hudson Valley in New York. A Winter Storm Warning means significant amounts of snow, sleet and ice will make travel very hazardous or impossible, according to NWS.

Earlier in the day NWS had already been saying a major winter storm system will bring “a variety of impacts to the Central, Southern and Eastern US through the weekend.” The “impactful” storm, Weather Service continued, is expected to “track from the Plains to New England through Sunday, with bitter cold behind it.” 

Fairfield County is under a Winter Storm Watch at this time, which means “there is potential for significant snow, sleet, or ice accumulations that may impact travel,” according to NWS. From Saturday through Sunday afternoon, portions of southern Connecticut, northeast New Jersey and southeast New York could see total snow and sleet accumulation of 3-6 inches, and ice accumulations of up to one-tenth of an inch. 

Travel could be “very difficult at any time,” NWS stated Friday morning. “Rapidly falling temperatures Sunday afternoon into the evening could cause any standing water to quickly freeze over. Strong wind gusts Sunday afternoon into the night could bring down tree limbs and power lines.”

The recently inaugurated governor announced on Friday that he plans to activate the state’s Severe Cold Weather Protocol beginning at noon on Sunday, January 20,  as bitter cold temperatures are anticipated to spread throughout the state just as the storm begins to move out. The Cold Weather Protocol will be in place through noon on Wednesday, January 23.

While activated, the state’s Severe Cold Weather Protocol directs staff from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP), the Department of Social Services (DSS), the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), and the Department of Housing (DOH) to coordinate with 211 and Connecticut’s network of shelters to ensure that the state’s most vulnerable populations receive shelter and are protected from the severe cold weather.

Shelters are open throughout Connecticut and can be located by calling 211 or visiting 211ct.org.

“Once this storm begins, travel is going to be rough,” Gov Lamont said. “We are urging everyone in Connecticut to make plans to stay in place Saturday night and into Sunday morning, and only travel if absolutely necessary.”

Officials from the Connecticut Department of Transportation are also stressing the importance of staying clear of snowplows while driving. Attempting to pass a plow when it is in operation presents the possibility of a dangerous situation.

Motorists are advised that they must clear all snow and ice from their vehicles – including the roof – before attempting to drive. State law requires that snow and ice be removed from atop vehicles after storms. Fines for violation of that law range from $75 to $1,250. 

 

Town Officials Urging Caution 

Town of Newtown officials are also urging local residents to be prepared ahead of the weekend. First Selectman Daniel Rosenthal and the Emergency Management Office on Friday issued a press release urging residents to be safe and stay informed.

Registering with CodeRED, the town’s system that messages to cell phones; registering with Smart911, which creates secure profiles for individuals, pets, and homes that can be accessed by dispatchers in an emergency; and subscribing to the Town’s News and Announcements alerts are all being suggested by town leaders today. 

Additional information about and registration for CodRED and News and Announcements can be done at newtown-ct.gov or by calling 203-270-4370. Newtown Emergency Communication Center Director Maureen Will be assist with Smart911 registration; she can be reached at 203-270-4296.

Should widespread power outages occur, the town leaders said Friday morning, “there will be additional communication forthcoming for relief efforts such as warming center/sheltering, charging electrical devices, restoration updates, etc.”

 

Important Phone Numbers

If there is a life safety emergency, call 911. 

To report a power outage, contact Eversource: 800-286-2000

The Office of the First Selectman: 203-270-4201

Emergency Management/Office of the Fire Marshal: 203-270-4370

Newtown Health District: 203-270-4291

 

Weekend Plans Changing 

With the impending weather, The Newtown Bee is already receiving word from a few organizers that weekend events are being canceled or postponed.

A FUN gathering planned for Saturday afternoon at Newtown High School has been postponed to Saturday, March 2, according to FUN Founder Linda Jones. 

Newtown Education Foundation’s Annual Evening of Comedy, scheduled for Saturday night at Edmond Town Hall, has been postponed to Friday, March 1.  

Also, the Sunday, January 20, Someday Cinema Series screenings of Harvey have been canceled. Series Coordinator Jen Rogers is working on a new date for that feature, she said Friday morning,

Readers are reminded that The Newtown Bee website is updated regularly, especially when breaking news like weather events occur. The newspaper’s Facebook and Twitter pages are also utilized regularly.

Organizers of events who need to announce changes are invited to contact us 24/7/365 with their changes. Business owners who have hours affected due to weather — or any emergency — are also invited to contact us to get the word out.

Contact Associate Editor Shannon Hicks at shannon@thebee.com. During the week, when our office is open, she can also be reached at 203-426-3141.

The town’s schools are already scheduled to be closed on Monday, January 21, in observance of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, Day. USPS post offices will be closed, as will town offices. 
 

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