[Updated Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2:00 p.m.] State of Emergency lifted in West Hartford as of 2 p.m., travel ban lifted as of 6 p.m. Gov. Malloy has lifted the travel ban on Connecticut roads as of 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Information that West Hartford residents need to know about the Blizzard of 2015 can be found here, and will be kept updated on a regular basis throughout the duration of the storm.
By Ronni Newton
Most West Hartford residents are veterans of major storms that have impacted the area over the past several years, and based on the empty shelves at some grocery stores most people are well prepared with bread, milk, and Chobani vanilla yogurt. [Editor’s note: I am not ashamed to admit that I got the last gallon of skim milk this morning at the Elmwood Stop & Shop, but the yogurt was already gone.]
We-Ha.com will be covering this storm from start to finish, keeping residents updated about road conditions, emergency notifications, cancellations, and any other information you need. Please check back for updates to this post, and we will do our best to also share them through social media.
If you have information to share with us, please email Ronni Newton at [email protected]. Please send photos as well, either by email or via Twitter by including @WeHartford and the hashtag #WHBlizzard in your tweet.
Jan. 27, 2015, 2 p.m.
The State of Emergency in West Hartford has been lifted effective 2 p.m. Tuesday, Mayor Scott Slifka said.
“Thankfully the impact of the storm in West Hartford was much less than anticipated,” Slifka said in a recorded message sent to town residents through Everbridge. “Public Works crews and contractors have been out all night and morning, and all our roads are presently passable.”
In addition to lifting the State of Emergency, Slifka said that the townwide parking ban will be lifted as of 6 p.m. Tuesday. Trash and recycling collection will resume on Wednesday with a one-day delay schedule in effect.
NBC Connecticut Meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan told We-Ha.com at 1:30 p.m. that although “scattered snow showers are possible through the afternoon,” the snow is pretty much done in West Hartford.
Director of Public Works John Phillips said that crews are “making excellent time” in clearing the town’s roads, and asked for the continued patience of residents.
Although libraries, senior centers, and recreation facilities will all reopen on Wednesday, a decision has not yet been made about the West Hartford Public Schools. Slifka said that the decision cannot be made until the statewide travel ban is lifted and cleanup of the school properties can begin, sometime between 2 and 3 p.m. Tuesday. Families of students will be informed about any changes to the school schedule directly by West Hartford Public Schools, and we will also publish that information on We-Ha.com.
“The opening of school will also depend on the cleanup of our own residential sidewalks, so we appreciate any help you can provide to try to get our students back to school tomorrow,” Slifka told residents.
He also reiterated that it is a violation of Town Code to plow or blow snow back into the street or into a public right of way. Violators are subject to a fine.
“Thanks in particular for your assistance and patience in helping us get through this as quickly as possible,” Slifka said.
Many businesses are reopening late this afternoon and evening. Please pass along any information you have either by email, in the comments below, or on our Facebook page. We have already been advised that Westfarms will reopen at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Jan. 27, 2015, 12:07 p.m.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy informed state residents in a noon press briefing that the travel ban on state roads will be lifted as of 2 p.m. today.
Although non-essential third shift state workers do not need to report today, all state employees will expected to report on Wednesday.
“We are through the worst of it,” Malloy said.
Jan. 27, 2015, 10:40 a.m.
Although the forecasters are still calling for some more snow, the sun is peeking through in West Hartford. Director of Public Works John Phillips said that his crews are hoping to begin final clean-up by noon.
Main arterial roads will be cleared first, followed by secondaries and then neighborhood streets.
Jan. 27, 2015, 8:15 a.m.
West Hartford Department of Public Works Director John Phillips reports that progress is going well, and 100 percent of all available resources have been in use throughout the night. “Main roads throughout town have been cleared – for now, although it’s still snowing 1-2 inches per hour,” he said. “Most plow drivers will stop for breakfast and then start working neighborhood streets. Our goal for this morning is to open all streets and make them passible. We still expect accumulating snow until early to mid-afternoon,” Phillips said.
After receiving mid-morning weather updates, Public Works will determine when the final storm clean-up can begin.
“It is cold and windy, the snow is light and blowing. Property owners are being asked not to push or throw snow back into the cleared streets. Property owners are subject to town fines, and it is counterproductive to our mission. We will return to push snow back to the curbs,” he said.
The parking ban remains in effect and will likely remain in effect throughout the day. “DPW’s best advice is to please continue to cooperate with parking and driving bans so we can provide clear and safe as possible roads for travel later today,” Phillips said.
Jan. 26, 2015. 6:15 p.m.
West Hartford residents will be receiving a call from Mayor Scott Slifka at approximately 6:30 p.m. Monday night through the Everbridge Emergency Notification system. We spoke with him earlier in the evening about the information that will be relayed in the call.
“I have declared a State of Emergency for West Hartford effective 9 p.m. Monday,” Slifka said. The reason for the declaration, he said, is to reiterate the governor’s order that no one should be out on the roads after 9 p.m. unless they have to.
Slifka said that town officials are ready to open the Emergency Operations Center in the police station if it becomes necessary, and that need will be reassessed early Tuesday morning. Town leaders believe, based on the information they have received thus far, that this storm will be similar to the February 2013 blizzard and although it’s impossible to know for sure, it is unlikely that the bulk of the town will lose power.
Even though a physical Emergency Operations Center has not been opened, town leaders and emergency officials are still in constant contact about conditions in town.
“The need to open shelters will largely be dictated by the power outage situation,” Slifka said. At this time, residents are being urged to shelter in place.
“Even if things go really well, and we hope that they will, the recovery will be frustrating. It’s going to take 24 to 36 hours to clear the roads, and that can be frustrating. We are pleading for your patience in advance,” Slifka said.
Slifka said that he is a commuter, too, and he understands that people need to get out. He is hoping that businesses will be accommodating about work schedules on Tuesday, and that most of the town’s roads will be cleared by the time people have to go to work.
“The sheer volume might make for a really long recovery, even if we are perfectly prepared,” he said.
All town facilities other than Town Hall are closed on Tuesday, and all events and schools have been canceled.
Jan. 26, 2015, 5:10 p.m.
From West Hartford Department of Public Works Director John Phillips: “All of our roads have been pre-treated. DPW crews are out now treating our main roads for the evening commute. We will have all available plow trucks including contractors by 10 p.m. this evening. Barring any unforeseeable issues we will remain 100 percent staffed until clean up work is completed.”
Phillips said that main roads are wet, and some neighborhood roads are slightly snow covered. “Right now we can keep up with snowfall rates,” Phillips said.
NBC Connecticut meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan provided We-Ha.com with a hyperlocal forecast this afternoon. There is a Blizzard Warning that will remain in effect through Tuesday, Hanrahan said. The total snowfall is expected to range from 18 to 30 inches. Although the most likely snowfall total for West Hartford is 18 inches according to Hanrahan, there will be a heavier band of snow resulting in 24 to 30 inches somewhere in Connecticut. “Too soon to say where,” he said. The forecast for the next 24 hours is: “Occasional light snow through this evening with heavier snow developing tonight. Blizzard conditions with wind gusts to 40 mph and heavy snow tonight. Snowfall rates of 2-3 inches per hour possible. Tomorrow we will see periods of snow, some heavy, with occasional lulls. Winds will remain gusty. It all tapers off tomorrow night.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy held a news briefing at 5:02 p.m. He said that non-essential first and second shift state employees have been instructed not to report to work on Tuesday, and urged businesses to do the same.
Train service will be suspended later this evening, and there will be no Shoreline East service tomorrow morning. Check with the railroad for updated information.
Bradley Airport is closing at 7 p.m., Gov. Malloy said. In addition, all University of Connecticut campuses closed at 3:30 p.m. on Monday and will remain closed for the day on Tuesday. All Board of Regents institutions are closed Tuesday as well.
The complete text of the governor’s briefing will be provided as soon as the news release has been received.
Jan. 26, 2015, 4:05 p.m.
From the West Hartford Police Department: “As you are clearing the snow from your driveway, we would like to remind you that it is against Town Code to plow snow or blow snow into the street or onto the public right of way. This includes pushing snow across the street and placing it against the far curb or tree belt. The fine for this is $79.”
The Town of West Hartford will also be sending out pertinent information through its Twitter account. You can follow the town at: @TownofWestHrtfd. We’re all using the hashtag #WHBlizzard for blizzard-related photos and information!
Jan. 26, 2015, 3:08 p.m.
Assistant Superintendent Andrew Morrow has announced that all West Hartford Public Schools will be closed on Tuesday, Jan. 27. School offices will be closed as well.
Jan. 26, 2015, 1:35 p.m.
Westfarms will be closing at 5 p.m. today.
Fire Chief and Emergency Operations Director Gary Allyn included the following information not already listed below in an email to residents: “If you haven’t already done so, please consider signing up for the Town’s Community Alert Network so we can communicate with you throughout the storm by home phone, cell phone, text messaging or email – whatever you prefer. Also sign up for Connecticut CTAlert at www.ctalert.gov. Lastly, if you have questions or concerns during the storm, call 860-523-2020.
Jan. 26, 2015, 11:50 a.m.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy held a news briefing this morning, and declared a State of Emergency in preparation for the Blizzard of 2015. The governor also issued a travel ban for all roads beginning at 9 p.m. Monday. The travel ban applies to all vehicles other than “emergency response and recovery vehicles with the capacity to maneuver in heavy snow.”
“People need to take this storm seriously,” said Gov. Malloy in a news release. “If current predictions are accurate, we will need people to stay off the roads so that emergency personnel and utility crews can get to the places they need to get to, and to make sure that our plows can keep critical roadways clear.”
The governor will hold another briefing at 5:02 p.m. Monday.
West Hartford Department of Public Works
A parking ban has been issued for all West Hartford streets beginning at 6 p.m. Monday. The ban will remain in effect until further notice.
Paine’s Trash and Recycling Collection
Monday’s pick-up is proceeding as scheduled. Tuesday’s trash and recycling collection has been delayed one day, which pushes ahead collections for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday collection areas as well. Updates regarding Wednesday’s collection will be provided when available.
Town of West Hartford Events
Town Clerk Essie Labrot advised that Monday night’s Community Planning and Physical Services Committee meeting has been canceled. Tuesday’s Human Services meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. as well as the 7:30 p.m. Town Council meeting has also been canceled. Additional cancellations will be posted on the Town of West Hartford website.
West Hartford Public Schools
All West Hartford Public Schools had early dismissal on Monday, Jan. 26.
West Hartford Libraries
The following message has been posted on the West Hartford Libraries Facebook page:
“Please, during the storm, do not attempt to return books to any of our outdoor book drops. With blizzard conditions predicted, snow and moisture may get trapped inside these drops, damaging books left inside. The library will waive overdue fines on books due today (1/26), tomorrow (1/27), and Wednesday (1/28). Please stay safe! We’ll see you once the storm has passed.”
Local American Red Cross Blizzard Safety Tips
The following news release was issued Monday by the Farmington office of the American Red Cross:
Connecticut is bracing for a major winter storm with potential for significant snow and high winds. “We want to remind people of some important information that will help them weather the storm and safely clean up after it departs,” said American Red Cross spokesperson Paul Shipman.
The forecast heavy snow and high winds could impact cleanup and brings the potential for power outages, Shipman said. “We want people to take extra care shoveling and clearing snow and to be prepared for the possibility that they could lose power.”
The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for winter storms:
- Assemble an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Pack a winter-specific supply kit that includes a warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves, and water-resistant boots, along with extra blankets and extra warm clothing for each family member. Sand or non-clumping cat litter is good to have on hand to help make walkways or steps less slippery. Additionally, make sure you have a first aid kit and a supply of essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries in your home in the event of a power outage.
- Heed Storm Warnings: A Blizzard Warning is issued for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 mph or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less. These conditions are expected to prevail for a minimum of 3 hours. A Winter Storm WARNING means that life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. Individuals in a warning area should take precautions immediately. Stay tuned to local media to keep up with forecasts and additional warnings.
- Use Caution Clearing Snow: Shoveling snow is strenuous work; take the task slow and easy to guard against over-exertion or back injury. Take regular breaks. If using a snow thrower, keep hands and feet clear of moving parts. Always turn off your snow thrower and use a stick or other implement to clear blockages, never use your hands. If there is a fire hydrant on your property, clear snow around the hydrant so it is accessible in the event of a fire.
- Tips for Home and Car: Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full, which will help to keep the fuel line from freezing. When the storm has passed, completely clear snow from all surfaces of your vehicle. It’s safer for you and other drivers and it’s the law in Connecticut. Be sure to keep furnace and gas dryer vents outside your home clear of snow to avoid the risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. If you lose power and heat, running water at a trickle from a faucet helps to prevent pipes from freezing.
- Use Generators Safely: Never operate a generator inside homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, sheds or other partially enclosed spaces, even if using a fan or opening doors and windows. Carbon Monoxide (CO) can quickly build up in these spaces and linger for hours after a generator is shut down. Place your generator outside, well away from windows, doors and vents. Shut down the generator before refueling it. If you begin to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a portable generator, shut it off and get to fresh air immediately. You could have CO poisoning.
- Use Care When Outdoors in the Cold: Dress in light layers so you can adapt to temperatures. Wear a hat; most of your body heat is lost through your head. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear insulated, waterproof footwear. Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia that can be a serious medical condition: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms. Recognize frostbite warning signs: gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, waxy feeling skin. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.
- Use Technology to Prepare and Stay Safe: Download Red Cross preparedness apps for your smartphone. Our free apps have tips and real-time information to help you prepare, as well as tools to help you keep in touch during and after a major storm. In particular, the First Aid App has a special section devoted to severe winter weather with preparedness tips and information about coping during and after the storm. Get the apps for iPhones or Android phones at www.redcross.org/mobileapps.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/ct or visit us on Twitter at @CTRedCross.
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