Southeast Connecticut suffered the first blizzard of 2022.
Western Connecticut State University Weather Center chief meteorologist Gary Lessor confirmed the storm reached blizzard status in the New London area around 9 a.m. Saturday and said it shouldn’t break out until about 9 a.m. hours that night.
There were 21.5 inches of accumulation reported at Groton and 17.3 inches at Ledyard as of 4 p.m., according to the lessor. He predicted another 2-4 inches before the storm was over.
The lessor described it as the biggest snow event in about five years. The 2017 blizzard dumped over a foot of snow in the state, including 19 inches in East Hartford.
To qualify as a blizzard, the National Weather Service says there must be winds over 35 mph for at least three hours and less than a quarter mile of visibility. The windiest conditions were reported in New London, where gusts of 65mph hit the US Coast Guard Academy. Gusts reached 57mph in Stonington and 46mph in Groton, according to the lessor.
The meteorologist said Cape Cod was “getting bombarded” with gusts that reached hurricane strength in places like West Dennis and Rockport.
Governor Ned Lamont, in a virtual press conference, had urged drivers to stay off the roads until the “nasty New England storm” passed.
He later announced that a highway tractor-trailer ban he had enacted at 3 a.m. would be lifted at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. “While the storm appears to be easing, the roads remain slippery and we continue to urge everyone to stay off the roads if they can while snow removal crews work to clear them,” he said. he said in an evening press release.
Lamont said powder snow wasn’t as much of a burden on trees and power lines as it could have been, which helped reduce the number of outages. Eversource Energy’s outage map identified 230 outages as of 5 p.m. Saturday, none of them in New London County.
Around 50 Norwich utility customers lost power on Saturday afternoon when a town plow hit a utility pole on Plain Hill Road in the Farm View Drive area. Police said the crew suffered minor injuries. Plain Hill Road was closed to traffic between the Stott Avenue intersection and White Plains Road as utility crews worked to repair the pole and restore power.
Power was back on late Saturday afternoon for all but 13 customers affected by the accident. NPU was waiting for a Frontier crew to remove the pole so utility crews could complete repairs and restore power to all customers, NPU spokesman Chris Riley said.
At around 3.40am, police and firefighters responded to reports of a burning snow plow on Julian Terrace in Norwich, police said. The plow was engulfed in huge flames on the snowy road. No injuries were reported during this incident.
Plow problems were also evident in Ledyard, where Mayor Fred Allyn III said two trucks were out of service on Saturday – one due to mechanical failure and one due to a rollover accident on Rose Hill Road. He posted on Facebook asking for people’s patience.
State police said there were four crashes on Interstate 95 in Old Lyme over a two-hour period Saturday morning. A north side rollover crash closed the freeway from about 8:19 a.m. to 10:14 a.m. There were no injuries in that crash or two others, according to state police. Minor injuries were reported in a three-vehicle collision reported at 9:47 a.m. and cleared at 10:30 a.m., state police said.
At 2:51 p.m., radar showed a final band of heavy snow extending from near Voluntown south to Mystic and across Long Island Sound, but it was slowly weakening, NWS said in a special weather report. . The unit was still capable of producing up to 2 inches of snow per hour.
The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Safety predicted snow would ease across eastern Connecticut as of 11 p.m. Saturday and the region would end up with a total of 18 to 24 inches.
Snow in Groton City was still falling between 1 inch and 2 inches per hour around 5 p.m., city mayor Keith Hedrick said.
“It always affects visibility,” he said. “We are asking people to stay off the roads. The parking ban is still in effect. We have towed 15 cars through the parking ban. We are continuing to clear the roads.” He said the crews were trying to keep the roads as clear as possible, but with the snow rate it was a challenge. Emphasis was placed on major roads and arterials, so that first responders could get through.
Depending on when the snow ends and the amount of snow cleared, crews were expected to continue working overnight, take a break and return on Sunday, or finish Monday in terms of clearing edges and pushing back snow. snow, Hedrick said. He said the crews had been up for a long time, so their safety was the main concern.
There were no outages in the Groton Utilities or Bozrah Light & Power areas, he said.
Groton Town Manager John Burt said the public works department reports all roads are passable but messy with lots of snow drift. Emergency dispatch and Eversource were also reporting no issues late Saturday afternoon.
In Stonington, first coach Danielle Chesebrough said early Saturday evening that the city’s emergency operations center at the police station would close at 7 p.m. Saturday after being open for about 24 hours. She said the city experienced two minor power outages during the day, including one caused by a downed power line in the Wequetequock neighborhood, but service was quickly restored.
“Everything went pretty well,” she said.
Chesebrough continued to urge residents to stay off the roads on Sunday to allow freeway crews to clear the roads of nearly 2ft of snow. She said highway department staff would get some sleep Saturday night but be back at work Sunday.
All vehicles must stay off city roads during cleanup or face fines and towing. In the borough, all vehicles must exit Water Street, although parking is permitted on the even side of Main and Elm streets, on Sundays.
Chesebrough said the town’s municipal transfer station will be closed on Sunday.
Daytime staff writers Claire Bessette, Erica Moser and Joe Wojtas contributed to this report.
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