Updated 5 p.m.
The Office of Emergency Management has opened the Groton Senior Center as a warming shelter for people without power, and is asking residents to bring their own blankets, pillows and food for the night.
“They can bring a sleeping bag, they can bring the folding soccer chairs, whatever they want to do make themselves as comfortable as they can for the overnight,” said Jeff Williams, deputy director of emergency management. The senior center will not have cots.
He said the town decided to open the shelter because it was getting inquiries from people about a place to get warm and Connecticut Light & Power indicated that those without power would remain without power for another night.
Williams said the office is urging residents who plan to stay at the shelter to arrive there before sundown, because the town is giving snow plow drivers a break tonight.
“So from 7 p.m. tonight until 8 in the morning we won’t have plows on the road, so it’s going to be an ice rink out there,” he said.
Gov. Malloy lifted the travel ban at 4 p.m., and Williams said state roads are passable. He said ramps on and off the interstates are slippery, but overall, travelers should be able to get where they need to go.
The town will reassess in the morning how long to keep the shelter open, Williams said.
Updated 10:15 a.m.
Groton’s Office of Emergency Management will meet with town fire chiefs at noon today to discuss whether to open a warming center or shelter in Groton and how to get residents there if power is not restored.
Connecticut Light & Power reported 2,181 Groton customers without power as of 9:24 a.m., or 26 percent of the customers served.
Jeff Williams, deputy director of the Office of Emergency Management, said the last estimate reported 24 inches of snow in Groton, with drifts of three to five feet.
“We’re digging out, slowly but surely,” he said. He said he hasn’t heard reports of any plows being stuck, but trees and wires have fallen along streets across town, slowing the process. There are too many affected streets to list, he said.
“The list (of roads with wires down) is too long,” he said. “It’s mainly side roads, access roads.” Some are electrical lines and other are phone and cable wires, he said.
“They are out and doing the best they can. It’s slow going,” he said of the plows.
The town manager was on a conference call with the governor this morning discussing what should happen next, Williams said.
Many businesses, including Crystal Mall in Waterford, did not open at their regularly scheduled times of 10 a.m. or earlier due to the storm. The mall was expected to open sometime today, but did not have specifics as of 10:15 a.m.
Snow continued this morning, and Gov. Dannel Malloy ordered all roads closed and issued a travel ban in Connecticut.
The National Weather Service said "the historic storm is winding down," but said the blizzard warning remains in effect until noon Saturday.
Connecticut Light and Power reported 2,157 Groton customers without power as of 7 a.m. Saturday, or 26 percent of the total served.
Below are some snowfall totals, unofficial observations, recorded by the National Weather Service for New London and New Haven Counties:
- Groton 8.0 inches as of 10:00 p.m. 2/08 CT DOT
- Norwich 25.0 inches as of 4 a.m. 2/09 CT DOT
- Stonington 7.5 inches as of 10:30 p.m. 2/08 Skywarn Spotter
- Lisbon 15.0 inches as of 10:58 p.m. 2/08 Skywarn Spotter
- New Haven 29.8 inches as of 4:00 a.m. 2/09 CT DOT
- Colchester 18.5 inches as of 4:00 a.m. 2/09 CT DOT
- Guilford 27.0 inches as of 2:00 a.m. 2/09 Public
- Milford 25.5 inches as of 4:00 a.m. 2/09 CT DOT
- North Branford 24.0 inches as of 12:30 a.m. 2/09 Public
- Branford 22.0 inches as of 12:45 a.m. 2/09 Public
- Naugutuck 21.0 inches as of 2:00 a.m. 2/09 Public
- Cheshire 16.0 inches as of 11:00 p.m. 2/08 Public
- Bridgeport 30 inches as of 6:58 a.m. 2/09 Coop. observer
Stephen Gray, a reader on Groton Patch Facebook, reported that he had 11 inches of snow as of 10 p.m. Friday.
Gov. Malloy issued this statement about closing the roads:
Governor Malloy has ordered all roads in Connecticut closed until further notice. This traffic ban extends to all vehicles except for those emergency response and recovery vehicles with the capacity to maneuver in heavy snow.
"It's critical right now that residents stay off the roads, so that our plows can continue their efforts to clear our streets and highways," said Governor Malloy. "This is a record setting storm. It's going to take time to dig out of the snow. Stalled or abandoned vehicles will only slow that process. Unless you face an emergency, please stay put."
Notice of the travel ban was sent over the state's Emergency Broadcast System.
Connecticut transit bus service was shut down down at 4 p.m. Friday, and the shut down will remain in effect until further notice.
Patch readers on Facebook who had to go into work in New Haven Friday afternoon reported that emergency vehicles and even snow plows were getting stuck on the roads. A news crew from WTNH slid off the highway and had to spend the night in the vehicle.
Marcy Reed, president of National Grid, said failures could last several days because repairs cannot begin until the storm ends and will require unearthing power lines buried under mounds of snow.
Stonington and East Lyme were among the areas hardest hit in Connecticut, with more than 4,000 customers, or 50 percent of the town, without power in Stonington, and 7,652 without power in East Lyme, or 80 percent of the total CL&P customers in town.
The National Weather Service reported snow accumulations of up to 36 inches in some areas. As of 5 a.m., north winds from 15 to 25 mph were gusting up to 40 mph. Temperatures were in the lower 20s.
"The strongest winds and heaviest snow will occur through daybreak ... travel is not recommended this morning as many roads are impassable with numerous reports of closed roads and stranded cars."
Groton City Announcement
The City of Groton posted this notice on its website:
"Power outages often lead to loss of heat. When winter weather creates hazardous road conditions, the Red Cross recommends "sheltering in place" by staying inside their homes instead of venturing out and possibly getting stranded or having a wreck.
The need for shelter will be assessed after a storm. Please be sure to report power outages to Groton Utilities at 860-446-4000. Non-emergency storm related incidents can be reported to the City of Groton Police Department non-emergency dispatch number – 860-445-2451. For emergencies, always call 911. Shelter in Place - Safety Tips
Winter storms can pose unique challenges. Please review these tips from the Red Cross on preparing for winter storms."
Winter storm preparedness tips
A snow removal parking ban will remain in effect in Groton City until 6 p.m., with parking prohibited on the following streets:
- Thames Street from Broad Street to School Street
- Slocomb Terrace
- Beckwith Place
- Latham Street (Odd Side Only)
- Fort Street (Odd Side Only)
The City has made parking available at Groton Heights School, the Municipal Parking Lot at 2 Latham Street, and at Washington Park.