Snowstorm Strikes, Schools Closed, State Employees To Stay Home

snowfallmapcroppedBy Kelly Glista, David Owens and Don Stacom, Hartford Courant

A storm hit with snow statewide, dropping several inches in greater Hartford and making for a slippery commute.

The snow prompted nearly every school in the state to close and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to tell non-essential state employees to stay home.

The state Department of Transportation urged people who didn’t have to travel to stay home. There are reports of spinouts throughout the region. State and local plow crews were working to clear roads and to keep them passable.

The snow started falling around 3:30 a.m. in Hartford on Wednesday and ramped up for the morning commute.

The state is under a winter storm warning from midnight Tuesday through 6 p.m. Wednesday.

CT Transit announced delays Wednesday on several routes. For more information, check the service’s website.

See Joe Furey’s full forecast below.

Although Bradley International Airport remains open, about half of the airports flights, inbound and outbound, have been cancelled for the day, said John Wallace, an airport spokesman. He urged travelers to check with their airlines before heading to the airport.

Metro North said customers on the New Haven line should expect system-wide delays of 45 to 60 minutes because of power problems.

The worst of the storm has passed, althought there will be lingering pockets of mixed preciptation, said Fox CT Meteorologist Dan Amarante.

Roads should gradually improve as highway crews, aided by temperatures in the 30s, plow and treat roads, Fox CT Meteorologist Joe Furey said. Still, he urged caution as roads could ice over quickly if a band of freezing rain moves through.

Snow totals ranged from 8 to 12 inches north of I-84 and less close to the coast. Storrs and Collinsville reported 10 inches.

By 5 a.m., 6 inches of snow had fallen in Orange. See Dan Amarante’s report below.

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A man uses a snowblower to clear snow from his driveway on Route 68 in Durham during Wednesday’s snow storm. After about 6 to 8 inches fell overnight, the snow changed over to rain and sleet at about 8 a.m. (CLOE POISSON/Hartford Courant)

Several cities and towns, including Hartford, declared parking bans for Wednesday on Tuesday afternoon. Hartford, West Hartford and other public school systems canceled classes for Wednesday, as did several colleges and universities in the state, including the University of Connecticut.

Many state offices and all state courts were closed for the day after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told non-essential state employees to not report for the day shift. He asked private employers to take similar steps.

The snow delayed by a day the opening of the General Assemby’s 2014 session. The joint session will begin at noon Thursday, when Malloy will deliver his State of the State address.

“If you can, stay home,” he said.

He also expanded a ban on tandem trailers already in place in New York state to Connecticut’s highways.

Angelica Spanos reports on the weather conditions in Torrington at 7:30 a.m.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo banned all travel on I-84 in New York, from Connecticut to Pennsylvania. The ban was effective immediately and Cuomo said any vehicle on the road would be ticketed.

“The State is closing I-84 as a precaution to protect drivers as this storm moves across the state,” Cuomo said. “I urge all New Yorkers to stay off the roads and monitor news and weather reports throughout the day for updates.”

Malloy spokeswoman Samaia Hernandez said there are no plans to close any Connecticut highways, although people are urged to stay off the roads.

McAndrews3Cropped

Hartford police stand by directing traffic around a stuck bus blocking south bound Main Street in Hartford. (MICHAEL McANDREWS/Hartford Courant)

Metro-North will operate on a special schedule Wednesday morning with an 18 percent reduction in the number of morning rush hour trains, a spokesperson said Tuesday. That will allow the commuter railroad to keep extra trains available for emergencies. The schedule is available on their website.

Delays of up to an hour were reported on the New Haven line by late morning.

Metro-North has seen reduced ridership in past storms, the spokesperson said.

Jan Carabeo reports on the weather conditions in Meriden at 5:30 a.m.

As of Tuesday night, JetBlue was waiving change fees for travelers scheduled on Wednesday flights through Bradley International Airport, and Southwest was allowing customers to rebook on other days at the same fare. Passengers are advised to contact their airlines Wednesday for updates about Bradley service.

Peter Pan Bus Lines began canceling trips on some routes in the Northeast — including a few through Connecticut — starting late Tuesday night. All service is canceled for Wednesday on routes between Hartford and Storrs, Hartford and Providence, Hartford and New York (including Farmington, Torrington, Waterbury, Southbury, Danbury) and Williamstown and New York ( including Canaan, Winsted, Torrington, Waterbury, Southbury, Danbury and Massachusetts stops).

Megabus projected some cancellations in 16 states including Connecticut; riders should check us.megabus.com for updates.

Malloy also will partially activate the state’s Emergency Operations Center at midnight to monitor storm conditions across the state and prepare for the heavy snow. The center will be staffed with representatives from the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Health, state police, Connecticut National Guard, and Fire/Rescue Coordination.

DEMHS is also coordinating with the state’s utilities in the event power restoration is needed, Malloy said.

Mike Magnoli reports on the weather conditions in Enfield at 6 a.m.

Wednesday’s storm follows one on Monday that dropped 3 to 6 inches of snow in southern Connecticut and 1 to 3 inches in the central and northern parts of the state.

Another storm, including the potential for more snow, is expected Sunday night into Monday, Fox CT Meteorologist Rachel Frank said.

“Right now there are still plenty of questions as to the track of this storm,” she said Tuesday. “Our newest data shows the storm trending farther out to sea, bringing far less of an impact. But with the current pattern, we will need to keep a close eye on things.”

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