State Roads Closed as Blizzard Barrels into Branford

Mary Johnson PhotoUPDATE—A blizzard barreled into Branford early Tuesday morning as a serious Nor’easter pounded the state with heavy snow and strong winds. The temperature got warmer as the day unfolded and the snow turned to sleet and rain. Temperatures were expected to plunge tonight, creating potential black ice problems for the morning. Plows were out clearing Branford’s roadways.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has ordered a statewide travel ban, beginning at 5 a.m. Tuesday. The ban included all state roads in Branford and surrounding communities. It remained in effect until 5 p.m. today.

At 5:30 p.m, at his final press conference for the day, the governor announced that state offices will be open for business tomorrow and told workers to come to work.

It’s not often that the state closes down its main roads, the governor said at a news conference in Hartford. “We don’t do this frequently. Because we don’t do it frequently people listen. This is New England. We have snow. I’m most appreciative that people listened.” Earlier in the day he urged residents to stay home. “Make brownies,” he said, or “read a book.” His wife took him up on it and a tray of brownies was later delivered and shared with the press corps covering the blizzard. 

Mary Johnson PhotoA parking ban is in effect for all Branford roadways during and for 24 hours after the storm, Police Capt. Geoffrey Morgan announced last night. All schools are closed today.

The governor held a winter storm briefing this morning at the Emergency Operations Center in Hartford after he had held a conference calls with top officials from towns and cities across the state. Their concerns, he said, centered on expected high wind gusts, which may reach up to 60 mph.

At his 1 p.m update, Malloy said the travel ban on state roads continues this afternoon. It was lifted at 5 p.m. tonight. 

The governor observed that it is getting warmer, but will get colder tonight, creating a black ice problem overnight. He spoke as rain began to fall, giving reporters an update on the state’s towns and cities. Some have declared emergencies, some have not. He said about 1,800 customers were without electricity statewide.  Virtually all flights in and out of Bradley International Airport have been cancelled. He said snow accumulations ranged from 3 to 16 inches across the state.

The governor thanked state residents for staying off the roads, which enables plow trucks to do their job. He said with potential snow rates of 6 inches an hour, it’s not a good idea to have cars on highways. “I don’t close the roads too often.  If you don’t have to travel, don’t be on the road…  Read a book,” he suggested. 

“Please continue to stay off the roads,” he told residents. “This is heavy snow and we want to stay ahead of it.” So far, he said there have been “just 19 calls to state police today. I am thankful people are off the roads.” He added that planes are grounded at state airports.

Metro North officials decided this morning that all service will stop at noon today because of increasing winds and heavy snow on the tracks.

Ethan O'Brien PhotoWinds will pummel the shoreline, with gusts reaching as high as 60 miles per hour when the blizzard intensifies. Despite the wind, the birds found a way to cope. 

Bill O'Brien PhotoEspecially from a feeder with bird seed. 

Branford Is Ready

First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove said Monday evening that the town is prepared for Tuesday’s storm. The emergency shelter at the Community House will be open in case of power outages (call 203-315-3909 to check) and any overflow will be directed to Branford High School.

The Community House emergency shelter is located off Meadow Street, which is in a flood zone.

Cosgrove told the Eagle that town offices will be closed to non-essential employees due to the governor’s travel ban on state roads. Public Works is prepared; private contractors will supplement the town’s fleet of plow trucks.

New Haven has taken the unusual step of declaring a travel ban beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday. That means other than emergency workers, people are supposed to stay home. The town’s ordinance prohibits parking on the even side of the road during and for 24 hours the snowfall,  Morgan said. 

Morgan said residents should take the time to clear snow from areas where furnaces, hot water heaters, clothes dryers and other appliances vent outside a building. “Should your carbon monoxide alarm activate, please evacuate the building and call 911.”

Sally E.Bahner contributed reporting for this story.

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