Storm Elsa Drops Wild, Wet Snow on Branford

Debra Kay Levi PhotoAfter a long day of rain, winter snow storm Elsa took control of Branford late yesterday afternoon, depositing heavy wet snow on vulnerable trees. By midnight 13 inches of snow had fallen on the town, according to the National Weather Service. Some towns had more than 2 feet of snow. 

The snow fell at about 2 to 3 inches an hour. Occasionally thunder laced the fast moving snowfall.

Branford Public Schools cancelled classes for all its students Wednesday along with all evening activities. But the anticipated snowstorm didn’t actually begin until late in the afternoon, creating another set of school cancellations today.

“Due to the impact of the severe storm and the ensuing recovery operations Branford Public Schools District is closed…” the school district announced this morning.

A View From Stony Creek

Local photographer Debra Kay Levi was in Stony Creek during the storm and said most roads were not passable.

Debra Kay Levi PhotoShe came across a tree that fell on Leetes Island Road and took off the front end of an Amtrak pickup truck. The man driving the truck is all right. She said even the police have been stuck.

Debra Kay Levi PhotoLevi added that the weight of the snow mixed with ice is causing “uncountable” wires to fall down along with trees. “This is probably the worst storm I have ever witnessed on the shoreline in my life,” she said.

Fire officials reported wires and trees were down across town. While many areas in town were without power, fire officials cautioned “to never assume a wire is dead. Treat all wires as if they are live. As Eversource re-energizes areas of town, a previously dead wire may become energized.”

During last week’s Nor’easter, the Branford Fire Department handled more than 42 storm-related incidents in less than one day. Trees fell on houses, on cars and on wires, making up the bulk of the incidents.

Power Outages Continue

Power winked on and off all night. At 8:30 p.m. about 213 residences were without power in Branford. By 11:30 p.m., that number grew to more than 5,700 residences. By this morning the number dropped to 3,731 Branford residences without power. Statewide there were more than 130,000 power outages as of this morning.

Beginning at about 4 p.m. yesterday, the heavy wet snowstorm got underway in earnest. It was about the time kids would have been leaving school had school not been cancelled. The powerful Nor’easter fell wildly, ending after midnight. From 6 to 11 inches of snow was expected in New Haven County, the National Weather Service reported. That turned out to be correct.

Travel conditions and coastal flooding were bad, and Branford residents experienced several power failures in the early evening hours. The first took place about 6:09 p.m. The second power outage occurred at about 7:34 p.m. Statewide about 15,000 homes were in the dark at that time.
The thick fast falling snow and high winds prompted Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to ban all tractor trailers from the state’s highways at about 6 p.m. and urged drivers to stay off the highways.

“What we don’t want to see are trucks on the highway stuck. They should stop wherever they are. New York is having a difficult time accepting trucks into the state,” the governor said at a press conference. “What we are worried about is the backup. That is why we banned trucks.”

The ban was later lifted.

At that time, there were 6,300 outages between the Eversource and U.I companies statewide.

At the press conference, the governor said the state might experience up to 16 inches of snow in certain areas. At 6 p.m. he said, “Central and western Connecticut was currently experiencing some of the heaviest bands right now.”

As of last night the governor said Metro North was experiencing 25 percent reduced service and that more than 55 flights were cancelled at Bradley airport.

Temperatures are expected to be in the 40s today and melting is quickly underway.

Sally E. Bahner contributed reporting for this story.


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