HARTFORD, CT—As Connecticut braced for more than a foot of snow Wednesday, Gov. Ned Lamont set a tractor-trailer ban on the state’s highways and advised residents to stay off the roads.
The National Weather Service was predicting heavy snowfall across the state and much of the region to begin Wednesday evening and last through Thursday. During a televised news briefing from the state Capitol, Lamont said state offices would be closed Thursday and state highways would be closed to tractor-trailer trucks from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 9 a.m. Thursday.
“Weather channels and ski resorts sometimes over-hype snow storms. I think this is a real one,” Lamont said.
“You’ve got to make sure if you don’t have to be on the road, do not be on the road. The snow’s going to start dropping heavily later this evening. We want you safe at home well before then,” he said.
Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said the department had pretreated the roads but was expecting “tremendous” snowfall at rates between 1.5 inches and 3 inches an hour starting after 8 p.m. Giulietti said 37 DOT employees were currently out sick with the COVID-19 virus so the department was drawing on a list of private contractors to assist with plowing efforts.
“It’s going to be a long process through the night,” he said.
Craig Hallstrom, Eversource president of regional electrical operations, said the utility had assembled 475 line workers for restoration crews, 250 tree crews, and over 120 damage assessors.
“The good news from the utility’s perspective, it is a drier snow but nevertheless we are watching the forecasts, especially in areas along the coast where the winds will be a bit higher,” he said.
On Wednesday, Lamont also activated the state’s severe cold weather protocol, which calls for municipal and state agencies to coordinate with United Way’s 211 referral service. The goal is to assist vulnerable residents with finding shelter from the severe weather.
“All of the shelters in all of our municipalities have received instructions from the American Red Cross and our agency on how to conduct sheltering safely with social distancing during this COVID operation,” said William Hackett, state emergency management director. “We’re recommending the public call 2-1-1 and they’ll find you a shelter.”
Lamont said he was not looking to downplay the potential impact of the storm, but said it was a more traditional crisis than the pandemic that has gripped the state for the past nine months.
“This is an old-fashioned emergency, the type of snowstorm we are used to here in New England,” he said. “If you stay safe, stay home a little bit longer, [in] 24 hours, I think we’re going to be okay.”