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If you haven't had your fill, more snow is on the way

By Kathleen Edgecomb and Izaskun E. Larraņeta

Publication: theday.com

Published February 12. 2013 12:00PM   Updated February 13. 2013 2:35PM
Tim Cook/The Day
Workers clear snow from this weekend's blizzard off of the rink at Parade Plaza in downtown New London Tuesday.
It's just a few inches, not another blizzard

With streets barely cleared from the weekend storm, the forecast is for another 1 to 3 inches of snow tonight into Thursday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Silva said a storm system coming from the south will make its way to the region today, developing into snow by nighttime. He said the snow is expected to taper off by early Thursday morning.

Silva said shoreline towns will likely get higher amounts of snow.

On Tuesday, towns in the region continued to clear roads and started preparing for another storm.

The Ledyard public works department sidelined its snowplow fleet Tuesday for maintenance.

"With the Department staring down the gun of a couple more near-term snow events, we have shifted most of our attention to restoring the plow fleet to a fuller state of readiness,'' Public Works Director Steve Masalin posted on the town's Facebook page Tuesday.

Six of the town's 12 large plow trucks and a pickup truck have not been on the road since the Friday night storm, but he said he expects all but two to be back on line by today.

"We are making good progress, but we will likely be down at least two large trucks and one pickup when the next storm hits Wednesday into Thursday,'' he wrote. "This will impact the timeliness of our removal activity, especially if we are lacking more than two large trucks."

In New London, four days after about 2 feet of snow brought the region to a virtual standstill, crews were widening travel lanes and attacking islands of packed snow that cropped up on many city streets.

"At this point, as far as we know, everything is accessible,'' Public Works Director Tim Hanser said Tuesday.

The main streets in the downtown were cleared and the parking ban lifted by 4 p.m.

Public works crews were concentrating on areas that needed more attention, specifically around the Connecticut and Jefferson avenue corridors, Hanser said.

Those clumps of ice that crop up on an otherwise plowed road are the result of packed snow breaking up, Hanser said. The only way to remove them is with pay-loaders. The city had five pay-loaders out on the streets Tuesday along with plows and dump trucks, attacking the packed ice.

"We had hoped for more sun, but we're salting the areas and with temperatures rising, they'll soften up,'' he said Tuesday.

New London truck drivers were on duty for 40 hours, were sent home at midnight Saturday and returned Sunday for an 11-hour day. They worked till about 9 p.m. Monday and were at it again early Tuesday morning. Hanser added that the city hired two contractors, who continued to work through the nights.

The city is now watching the weather.

The storm's impact on schools, municipalities

Norwich had no school Tuesday, in part because of some roads with narrow travel lanes, poor sight lines for buses and massive snow banks leaving little room for students to stand and wait for buses, Superintendent Abby Dolliver said.

On Tuesday, school buses were making test runs and First Student bus company was working with city plowing crews to identify trouble spots and widen travel lanes and intersections for buses and students.

Public Works Director Barry Ellison said after the morning school run today, plow crews and bus drivers will again work together to clear any problem areas.

Also Tuesday, the Norwich school system hired a roof contractor to shovel and clear roof drains from the city's flat-roof schools to prevent leaks and damage, Dolliver said.

Ellison said city roof drains are working properly, and he does not anticipate problems. In past winters, a portion of the City Hall roof experienced icing and leaks that damaged the historic tin ceiling and paintings in the Council Chambers.

While most municipalities are still tallying up the impact of the weekend blizzard on their budgets, Stonington Director of Finance Maryanna Stevens already had an estimate Tuesday. She said the town spent an estimated $73,000 on labor costs between Friday and Monday. The town has now spent a total of $133,000 for snow removal labor this winter, $13,000 more than what was budgeted this fiscal year.

Stevens said the town will be able to obtain 75 percent federal reimbursement for labor and equipment costs over a 48-hour period. That will bring the town back within budget.

With more snow on the way this week, it is likely the town will spend more than the $120,000, even with the reimbursement.

She said the town will alert the Board of Finance to the deficit but will wait until the end of the fiscal year on June 30 to decide how to address the deficit. She said if there is unspent money in other accounts, it could be transferred to the snow removal account, or the town could seek an additional appropriation from the finance board.

'Melting temperatures on the way'

While people have already had their fill of snow, Silva, the meteorologist, said it has been relatively dry since late February 2011.

"This system in and of itself won't be a crippling event," said Silva. "This storm is pretty average and what we tend to see in the month of February. Snow will fall on top of what we already have, but we do have some melting temperatures on the way."

On Sunday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced that his request for a presidential emergency declaration for the state had been approved.

The emergency declaration will provide, among other things, federal disaster funding for 75 percent of the cost of emergency protective measures incurred by municipalities, state agencies, and eligible nonprofits for a 48-hour period, according to Malloy. It could also cover the costs of snow removal equipment and personnel, power generation and other commodities.

The state's Department of Transportation has reported that 95 percent of its roadways are clear of snow, according to Malloy on Tuesday. Though the state is expecting more snow, the state should easily be able to handle it, he said.

Staff writers Claire Bessette, Johanna Somers and Joe Wojtas contributed to this report.

i.larraneta@theday.com

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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