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Power outages from freak October storm expected to be prolonged

October 29, 2011 Areawide, Local News No Comments
In a press conference held tonight at 6 p.m., Gov. Dannel P. Malloy estimated as many as 500,000 Connecticut residents are expected to be without power as a result of what’s being called Winter Storm Alfred.

In a press conference held tonight at 6 p.m., Gov. Dannel P. Malloy estimated as many as 500,000 Connecticut residents are expected to be without power as a result of what’s being called Winter Storm Alfred.

In a press conference held tonight at 6 p.m., Gov. Dannel P. Malloy estimated as many as 500,000 Connecticut residents are expected to be without power as a result of what’s being called Winter Storm Alfred.

Gov. Malloy also warned that anyone who is without power can expected the outage to continue “for a prolonged time.”

As of 6:30 p.m., Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) and United Illuminating (UI) were reporting a total of 436,000 homes without power.

Gov. Malloy said this number is in line with what was anticipated “over the last 35 hours” when emergency planning began.

Gov. Malloy said he expects to update residents on the situation after an 8:30 a.m. meeting on Sunday with utility companies.

The governor also spoke briefly about road conditions, verifying a question from reporters about news of a fatal accident on Route 85 in Colchester earlier today. Gov. Malloy said the fatality “was absolutely storm related.”

Besides slippery conditions, many roads have become dangerous because of wet snow breaking tree limbs that then either fall into roadways or crash into cars on the road.

“We’ve seen a large number of spinouts and (drivers) coming in contact with trees,” Gov. Malloy said.

Earlier today, Gov. Malloy signed an official ban for all but emergency vehicles on the Merritt Parkway.

He noted that while Route 95 is currently open, “traffic has come to a stop several time as a result of a number of accidents.”

The governor said 600 state vehicles are currently out clearing roads and that the state has contracted with 40 additional vehicles. The state is responding with “the normal array of services” for a typical winter storm, he said, although the fact that snow began to fall in the southwest corner of the state two hours earlier than expected, did take emergency planners by surprise.

Gov. Malloy said Winter Storm Alfred is expected to create more power outages across the state than Hurricane Gloria. He said power companies are seeing 50,000 to 75,000 new outages per hour.

The governor also advised residents that utility crews are only responding to emergencies involving live downed wires, and that restoration work will not begin “until conditions are safe.”

Gov. Malloy said Bradley Airport remains open and in fact, 23 flights have been diverted to that airport, which is approaching the record number of 27. “They are trying to get people off the planes as quickly as possible,” he added and noted the maximum time should be 3 hours for domestic flights and 4 hours for international flights.

The governor also reminded residents that one positive aspect of this storm is that the temperatures accompanying it are not as cold as they would be in mid-winter.

Meteorologist Bruce DePriest also pointed this out during his 6:30 p.m. forecast for WFSB. At the same time, it’s because of the warmer temperatures that this storm is producing such wet snow that is “gumming everything up,” he said.

He said tonight’s temperatures should be in the upper 20s and lower 30s, so this is “not a situation of seeing pipes freezing and bursting.”

Winter Storm Alfred, however, brings a “double whammy” DePriest said, mixing heavy, wet snow with wind gusts of 30 mph and more, as of 6:45 p.m., which can be expected to increase as the night goes on.

The southeast corner of the state is already experiencing wind gusts of up to 50 mph, he said.

As for snow accumulations, as usual the northwest part of the state is getting hardest hit, while the southeastern coastline of the state is seeing much less snow.

DePriest said to expect the storm to continue for at least another nine hours, with some clearing by dawn.

While much of the state can expect to see about six inches of snow, the northwest hills, i.e. the Litchfield area, could get 10 to 18 inches “before all is said and done,” DePriest said.

He added that this is already an historic storm for the month of October. The previous record for an October snowstorm in 1979 was 1.7 inches of snow, he said.

Posted Oct. 29, 2011

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