STORM WATCH: ‘It’s been awhile.’ Road crews prepare for first major snow in years
Hundreds of plow drivers will hit Connecticut roads late Monday night as the state prepares for its first widespread snow storm in two years.
Areas along I-84 could be in the bull's-eye – with a foot or more of snow. That includes Newtown, where drivers spent the day making sure all the equipment still works.
“It’s been awhile,” said Public Works Director Fred Hurley. “I won’t say we’re out of practice, but it’s time.”
Some areas were already pre-treated Monday afternoon.
“The really sensitive areas are like the bridge decks, intersections and hills,” Hurley said. “Typically those are the three areas that you worry about traffic being a problem.”
Newtown has 20 larger plow trucks, plus up to seven smaller ones. For this storm, the town plans to spread a mixture of salt and sand.
“We don't have the same problem some towns do, where they only put salt down,” said Hurley. “Because it stays pretty much on the road, because it is mixed in with sand.”
STATE CREWS STILL SHORT-STAFFED
Across the state, most surfaces won’t get salted until overnight.
“We don’t want to put it out there too early,” said Connecticut Department of Transportation spokesperson Josh Morgan. “Also keeping an eye on what that forecast – if it’s going to start with any rain or mixed precipitation that would really just wash away.”
Morgan said DOT will have 600 drivers out. The agency is still about 10% short on drivers, but he said that shouldn't be a problem since this storm will move out quickly.
“We’ll be short [staffed], but given the duration of the storm – doesn't look like it’s going to be a full day or a multiday event – we should be able to handle the roads,” said Morgan.
It may be a short-duration storm, but the timing and intensity are both working against road crews. Snowfall rates could top 2 inches per hour – during the morning commute – so DOT said it’s especially critical to give plow drivers lots of extra space.
“That 2-inch-an-hour accumulation may be a little tough to keep up with,” he said.
HARDWARE STORES WELL-STOCKED
Still need a shovel, salt or a sled for the kids? At Aubuchon Hardware in Monroe, they’ve got plenty.
“We have a lot of stuff,” said store manager Michael Kensel. “Obviously, the last couple of years, we have not had a lot of snow. We had the early snows, and we sold a lot of stuff. But unfortunately, we got a lot of stuff in to refill.”
Aubuchon also has plenty of snowblowers in stock. If you already own one, check it before the first flakes fly. But if it won’t start, you might be out of time – and out of luck.
"I have some snowthrowers that are from the end of November still being worked on because we were waiting for parts," Edgar Torres, manager of Brandman's Equipment in Norwalk, told News 12 Connecticut in January.