One thing that is true no matter the weather: You’ve got to walk the dog.
That was true for Chris Han and Addie Gorlin during Thursday’s blizzard.
Gorlin, who was in town visiting from Brown University, is from Minnesota; Han, a Yale medical student, hails from Wisconsin. So being out in the occasionally blinding snow in Wooster Square Park Thursday with their dog, Callie, felt like home for them.
Callie, a 1 year and 8-month-old golden retriever, bounded through the snow while Han balled up snow and pitched it so that she could fetch it.
Then Callie saw Pablo.
A 12-year-old bearded collie, Pablo was playing a similar game of fetch with his human, Anjani Jain. Seeing an opportunity to make a new friend, Callie joined right in. Pablo and Callie caught a few snowballs and begged to have more. A good time seemed to be had by all.
Another truth, no matter the weather: You’ve got to eat. And that’s what Ruben Gonzalez, three-year owner of the Subway at the corner of State and Chapel streets, was counting on. He said despite the weather he opened the shop at 7 a.m.as usual Thursday and planned to close at his regular time 7 p.m.
He said the day’s business was slow but some of his regulars from 360 State and other nearby apartments had braved the weather for a sub.
“It wasn’t too bad [in the morning], not too many people on the road,” he said during the afternoon. “Not like now. It was not really, really bad in the beginning—not bad like now.
“I’m going to stay open because I’ve got some customers from the buildings that say they’re going to come back. That’s the business.”
Earlier versions of this story follow.
Gusts Going Strong In “Bomb” Blizzard
The snow has mostly spoken. The wind’s just getting started.
That was the upshot from a mid-afternoon update on the “bomb cyclone” storm that battered New Haven, along with the rest of the East Coast, on Thursday.
The update took place at a 1:45 p.m. briefing by city officials at the Emergency Operations Center in the basement of the 200 Orange St. municipal office building.
Officials said they expect only a couple of more inches at most to fall until ending altogether by late afternoon, with accumulations totaling a foot or so.
But they’re expecting wind gusts as high as 50 miles per hour to keep pounding the area through the night.
That will complicate the clean-up. Officials are urging people to remain indoors into tomorrow morning as 67 city and private plows work on clearing the city’s 321 miles of roads.
“It’s a triple whammy,” said city emergency management chief Rick Fontana, with heavy snowfall, high winds and temperatures expected to plunge as low as 14 degrees — and 1 degree wind-chill — overnight. Forecasters call this combination of conditions a “bomb cyclone.”
Update: Public schools are closed Friday.
Among the information shared at the briefing:
• The parks department has enlisted a contractor, Asplundh, to remain on call through Friday to address falling trees or limbs. None had been reported as of 2:45 pm., but the continued high winds require the city to be prepared, said parks chief Rebecca Bombero.
• “Busted pipes have been a gigantic issue,” given the continuing sub-freezing cold streak, said Fontana. Including at City Hall. Last night the building was cleared out and firefighters rushed to the scene after a sprinkler head broke and set off an alarm. Local government’s Livable City Initiative (LCI) has people responding to calls for help with broken pipes and broken heating systems.
• High tide was about one and half feet higher than usual, causing some minor local flooding, according to City Engineer Giovanni Zinn. That was less than in superstorms that led to major flooding, especially in Morris Cove. “That part of the storm has gone better than predicted” so far, Zinn said.
• United Illuminating had also received no reports of outages in New Haven as of 1:55 p.m. People can call 1-800-722-5584 (1-800-7CALLUI) to report outages.
• Traffic and parking department crews plan to begin tagging and towing illegally parked cars on major neighborhood commercial corridors — Whalley, Grand, and Dixwell avenues — at 6 p.m. They plan to begin hitting all snow emergency routes around 10:30 p.m., then move on to residential streets. A citywide parking ban is in effect: no parking is allowed on odd sides of residential streets, on any downtown streets, or along snow emergency routes. School parking lots are open, as are the Granite Street and Temple Street garages (which are charging $3 a day). Update: The ban ends Friday at 5 p.m., by which point people must remove their cars from the garages and school lots.
• Drivers have largely heeded the call to stay off the roads, limiting the number of collisions the cops need to respond to, according to Lt. Stephan Torquati. He said so far the cops have been responding to calls for “dispute resolutions” and to urge homeless people to go to shelters and warming centers.
A repair crew was called to repair a construction fence that the storm knocked over at the Farnam Courts public-housing development.
Click on the above Facebook Live video above to watch the full briefing.
Officials held a conference call with alders about the storm before the briefing.
At the end of the briefing, Mayor Toni Harp praised those gathered for the cooperative spirit of the storm response. “I am so proud of the work you do,” she said. “It’s what makes New Haveners safe.”
”Bomb Cyclone” Blizzard Barrels In
New Haven schools and offices shut down while ticket-issuing parking enforcers and drivers of 67 plows began hitting the streets Thursday morning to tackle a volatile mix of sub-freezing temperatures, 40-mile-per-hour gusts, fast-dropping barometric pressure, and a foot of more of snow adding up to a “bomb cyclone.”
That’s the term forecasters have coined for the kind of storm beginning to wreak havoc all up and down the country’s eastern shoreline.
Relying on specialized information provided by a service called WeatherSentry, New Haven officials now expect prime time of the storm to occur not at rush hour Thursday morning, but between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., city emergency management chief Rick Fontana reported at 7:30. He said forecasts call for between 1 and 3 inches of snow to fall per hour at that time, and for gusts of wind to reach as high as 40 miles per hour all the way up to 4 p.m. The latest forecasts of snow accumulation range from 13 to 16 inches.
The city has declared a parking ban on the odd sides of all residential streets as well as on all downtown streets and emergency routes. Neighbors can move their cars to school parking lots. People can also park for $3 a day at the Granite Square and Temple Street garages.
CT Transit and the Greater New Haven Transit District’s “My Ride” buses were running as of 7:45 a.m., for now, although service has been halted at Bella Vista.
Traffic enforcers began their first sweep Thursday morning alongside public-works crews to ticket and tow cars illegally parked and in the way of plows.
City transit chief Doug Hausladen said his team is working hard to help people avoid getting towed rather than rack up tickets and tow jobs.
For instance, staffers used data from tickets issued in past storms to identify particular problem areas — like Farren Avenue, Grand Avenue, and Howard Avenue near Yale-New Haven Hospital — and distributed flyers overnight to warn people to move their cars. Staffers also broadcast warnings through microphones as they drove through neighborhoods.
The pictured heat map at the top of this story shows the problem areas targeted for flyers and broadcast announcements along emergency routes. At right is a map of routes crews were able to reach overnight Wednesday into Thursday. The green lines show routes completed by Thursday morning, yellow shows partially complete, and red denotes spots the crews didn’t get to.
“Wherever we failed the last storm in our communications, we double up. Every parking ticket and tow is a failure of communication. Every time we didn’t get to people, we try to get to them,” Hausladen said.
The city has mobilized a full fleet of 67 public-works and parks department plows along with help from private operators, Fontana said. Public works chief Jeff Pescosolido said his crews will work 16-hour shifts, possibly through clean-up Saturday night. “If we need to scale it back, we can scale it back,” but the city wants to be prepared for the most extreme scenario, Fontana said.
The city modified plow trucks this season so they can do double-duty depositing anti-icing material on the streets before the snow begins.
Both the city and state governments have ordered all “non-essential” employees to stay home Thursday. All city facilities, such as libraries, are closed.
The persistent bitter cold complicates efforts to keep people safe in the storm, of course. Local government’s Livable City Initiative (LCI) has been responding to calls from people who lack heat. In one case, staffers came across a boiler in which the water had frozen. That work will continue through the weekend, when temperatures are expected to fall below zero.
Click on the video to watch Fontana’s pre-storm briefing Wednesday afternoon at the Emergency Operations Center at 200 Orange St.