Storm Watch UPDATE: “We Missed the Bulk of It”; Wilton Snow Photos

Photo: GMW (ATG Visuals)

Bookmark this page, GOOD Morning Wilton will use this story as our Storm Watch Hub for the expected snowstorm.

UPDATE, SATURDAY, Jan. 29, 3:30 p.m. — Wilton seems to have been spared from any major impact from Saturday’s blizzard, which officials say hit much stronger to northeastern parts of Connecticut. Initial weather forecasts had predicted as much as 18 inches of heavy snow for Wilton but with the storm shift, the local area received much less precipitation.

“It appears the storm is winding down and we missed the bulk of it in our area,” Police Chief John Lynch emailed on Saturday, adding that Wilton got up to 6 inches of light snow and minor drifting.

“The roadways are snow covered but plowed with light blowing snow making them slippery. There are no incidents to report in Wilton and there are no power outages,” he wrote.

Eversource confirms that’s still the case for Wilton at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, despite winds still periodically gusting even after the snowfall has stopped. The wind is projected to subside by Sunday morning.

Lynch reminded residents that temperatures are in the teens so the roadways will remain frozen overnight and into Sunday. He added that Wilton Police and DPW will continue to monitor the conditions and address any issues that may arise.

Winter Storm Safety Tips — During and After the Storm

Wilton’s PuroClean sent GMW some recommendations to pass along to readers with safety tips for during and after storms. With more snow possibly headed Wilton’s way next week, these are good things to consider.

“It’s important to know what to do during and after a blizzard strikes your area. Having a winter storm safety mindset will help you keep yourself and your loved ones safe during inclement weather,” said Alejandro Restrepo, president and owner of PuroClean Wilton/Ridgefield.

  • Drive carefully. If there is a winter storm warning in your area, take precautions immediately. Avoid driving and if you’re already driving, exercise caution. If you must travel by car, bring a disaster supplies kit.
  • Don’t go outsidein the storm. However, if it is necessary, walk carefully on snowy or icy paths. Wear appropriate clothing: layers of lightweight clothes, water repellent outerwear, a hat, mittens, and a scarf.
  • If you’re shoveling snow, avoid overexertion. Take breaks and lift smaller loads. Change wet clothes right away to prevent loss of body heat.
  • Prevent frostbite. In cases of cold temperature exposure, prevent frostbite by covering exposed skin. If you think you have frostbite, do not rub the affected area. If you’ve lost feeling in extremities, such as fingers and toes, seek shelter and medical help.
  • Prevent hypothermia. This is another danger when exposed to low temperatures. Symptoms include drowsiness, shivering, incoherence and memory loss. People who are experiencing hypothermia must be warmed up immediately and treated by a doctor.
  • Find help if stranded in your car. If you’re stuck on the road in your vehicle, get out and seek help only if a safe location is visible or nearby and have appropriate clothing. Follow the instructions from your local transportation department, to learn the safest route to your home.
  • Consider a public shelter. If you lost power because of the storm, consider going to a designated public shelter. Be aware of frostbite and hypothermia risks when going outside.
  • Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Be cautious when using burners to reduce the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Vent fuel-burning equipment to the outside and have fire extinguishers close by. Check that the outside vent is clear of leaves, debris, and snow. Also, never use a generator, grill or other gasoline/charcoal burner indoors.
  • Evaluate your preparedness after the storm. When the storm has settled, evaluate your safety preparations and supplies kit. Think about ways you can improve your plan and what you can add to your kit to get through the next winter storm more safely. Share your winter storm safety tips with friends and neighbors.

UPDATE, Saturday, JAN. 29, 8 a.m. — Here’s the latest forecast as of Saturday morning from the National Weather Service, which has revised its projected snowfall totals for Wilton to 6-12 inches.

National Weather Service map

Saturday: Snow, mainly before 4 p.m. High near 21 degrees. Wind chill values between -5 and 5. Windy, with a northwest wind 22-26 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 4-8 inches possible.

Saturday night: A 30% chance of snow, mainly before 8 p.m. Cloudy during the early evening, then gradual clearing, with a low around 7 degrees. Wind chill values between -10 and zero. Blustery, with a northwest wind 15-22 mph, with gusts as high as 37 mph.

Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 25 degrees. Wind chill values between -5 and 5. Northwest wind 9-14 mph.

Friday evening, Wilton officials sent an alert on the towns alert system warning residents that this weekend’s storm “has the potential to be much more powerful than storms we have experienced in recent years.”

Town officials said that Wilton’s emergency personnel “are prepared and monitoring conditions, [and] additional personnel will be on duty,” including both year-round Department of Public Works drivers as well as seasonal drivers, who “will be working around the clock to clear the roads.”

With predicted conditions of fast-falling snow that may possibly reach 18 inches, coupled with 50-60 mph winds and driving snow, town officials said that there “may be periods when it will be too dangerous for [town DPW plows] to be on the road,” and they will use Comstock Community Center for support during the storm.

Officials asked for “patience and understanding of the possible scope of the effort that may be required.”

They also requested that residents stay off town roads during the storm, unless travel is absolutely necessary, so that crews can perform road-clearing work as safely as possible.

Police Chief John Lynch (also the town’s Emergency Management Director) said that town officials are in regular communication with Eversource and will receive updated information as the storm progresses.

Subscribe to town emergency alerts/Other storm & Emergency Info

E-alerts: The Town of Wilton sends emergency alerts and communication via email, and residents are able to subscribe to e-alerts on the town website.

Code Red Calls: Register online for code red calls from the town.

Town Info: Other storm preparedness information is available on the town website as well.

To report emergencies:  Call 911

To report downed trees and non-emergencies:  Submit downed tree/non-emergency information via SeeClickFix.

Utilities

Eversource prioritizes clearing roads over power restoration in storm situations, in an effort called “Make Safe Blocked Roads.” They explain the prioritization as follows:

  • Clearing roads for Make Safe Blocked Roads “is a public-safety priority for Eversource,” and will begin as soon as it is safe after a storm system passes.
  • Clearing a Make Safe Blocked Road: ensure downed lines are de-energized and make temporary accommodations to remove wires or electrical equipment in the roadway. 
  • After all Make Safe Blocked Roads are cleared in a community, Eversource may move Make Safe resources to clear Make Safe Blocked Roads remaining in other communities. This is dependent on the volume of Make Safe Blocked Roads in the state, as well as the type and volume of lesser priority roads in that community.
  • Once all Make Safe Blocked Roads are cleared across the system, Eversource will begin to clear electrical infrastructure from the remaining Blocked Roads and Partially Blocked Roads and address other priorities.

Power restoration priorities:

  • Power restoration is prioritized based on critical facilities and outages with the highest number of customers. Outage map and related information are available on Eversource’s website.
  • Altice/Optimum and Frontier restoration timeframes often depend on Eversource restoration.
  • Each company is responsible for the repair and restringing of its own lines. Unfortunately, they are not required to coordinate restringing.
  • Complaints about Eversource customer service can be made to the CT Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA). Complaints about Altice or Frontier customer service can be made to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).

Eversource:  Stay clear of downed wires and report them immediately to 911. Be sure to report any outage online or by calling 800.286.2000. Customers can sign up for the company’s two-way texting feature to report outages via text and receive outage updates as they happen.

There is an outage map on the Eversource website as well.

Altice:  Sign up for alerts through “my account” on their website.  Contact regarding issues as follows:

Frontier:  (explained on the town website) “Frontier’s broadband routers are designed to reconnect automatically when electric power is restored following a power outage. If service does not automatically reconnect after power restoration, [Frontier] recommend[s] that a customer first reboot/refresh their modem by turning the modem’s power off for one minute and then turning the power back on. If service remains out, other factors may be involved, and 24-hour customer service is available at 800.239.4430 for residential customers or 800.921.8102 for business customers.”

Closures

The following will be closed on Saturday, Jan. 29:

Wilton Family YMCA
Wilton Historical Society
Wilton Library
Village Market

Lamont Activates State Emergency Operations Center, Implements Tractor Trailer Ban

In anticipation of the severe winter storm with blizzard conditions, Gov. Ned Lamont implemented a travel ban on tractor trailers for all limited access highways statewide effective at 3 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29, until further notice. The tractor trailer travel ban is being implemented in coordination with neighboring states that are also anticipating severe conditions.

Additionally, Lamont has directed the CT State Emergency Operations Center to be activated at 6 a.m. on Saturday, and staffed virtually and/or in person with personnel from several state agencies, including the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP), which includes the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the State Police, and the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control; the CT Department of Transportation (CT-DOT); and the CT National Guard.

Lamont has advised CT residents to anticipate sheltering in place beginning Friday night through Saturday evening, and to avoid all unnecessary travel throughout the duration of storm.

Crews from CT-DOT have been preparing in advance of the storm. The state has 634 plow trucks, 18 industrial loader-mounted snow blowers, and more than 100 front-end loaders that are prepared for deployment, in addition to roughly 200 contractors that are on standby and ready to supplement the state plowing fleet.

The New Haven Line will operate a storm schedule (Metro-North schedule Z), while all other bus and rail services statewide are suspended on Saturday.

“The Connecticut Department of Transportation is geared up and ready to go,” CT Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti. “All equipment, vehicles, and crews are at the ready, and our storm center is monitoring the weather forecast and conditions closely. Although this is a changing storm, we are urging the public to stay home and off the roads. Let our crews work. And as always, if you must be out, use extreme caution and do not pass the plow. With our staffing shortages, we’re asking for patience, it will take longer to clear our routes and keep up with accumulating snow.”

While it is encouraged to avoid driving during the storm if at all possible, motorists can check the CT Travel Smart website for the latest road updates and alerts before traveling.

ORIGINAL POST: Friday, Jan. 28, 1 p.m. — Wilton’s Emergency Management Director, Police Chief John Lynch, has issued the latest update from the CT Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) on the storm expected to hit Connecticut on Saturday, Jan. 29, with a “bad news, bad news and good news” lead-in.

The first bit of bad news: the storm is tracking further west, according to the average of the computer models. Connecticut has not seen a blizzard warning years, but now officials are saying to expect “near blizzard” conditions, including white-outs. The storm is currently predicted to drop 1-3 inches per hour at times with drifting across the region.

Forecast confidence is “good” according to the DESPP, but the storm track and intensity will possibly change in the next 12 hours as it gets closer and Wilton will receive a significant amount of snow regardless. What’s being predicted as of now is a range of 12-18 inches in Western CT, and up to 18-24 inches in Eastern CT (especially near the RI border).

Snow will start before daybreak on Saturday and continue until Saturday evening. Northeast winds could gust to 50-60 mph at times along the coast with temperatures in the upper teens and low 20s. The impact on travel is expected to be major with occasional near-white conditions and deeply snow-covered roads. Almost all air travel in the Northeast is expected to be cancelled.

Bad news, part two: The wind may present some difficulties with fallen trees and branches that may cause power outages. Lynch urged residents to be prepared in the event they lose power. Eversource is preparing for this storm and will be ready to respond, but “there may be a delay in their response due to the hazardous conditions.”

The GOOD news: Lynch said the timing of this storm is very good. “The worst of it is expected late Friday and into Saturday when many of you will be safe at home. With little or no vehicular traffic, the plow drivers can do their job safely. Schools are closed and many businesses will likely be closed, including gas stations and grocery stores,” he said, adding, “Please prepare yourselves today.”

Transfer Station

Due to the potential snow storm, the Town of Wilton Transfer Station will be closed on Saturday Jan. 29, and will resume normal business hours on Monday, Jan. 31.

Wilton Public Schools

Superintendent Kevin Smith notified the community that all weekend activities in the Wilton Public Schools are canceled and all school buildings will be closed due to the significant amount of snow predicted.

Wilton Parks and Recreation

The Parks and Recreation Department reminded all residents they should not shovel snow off the track, any fields, or the tennis courts. Shovels may damage the surface of any of these facilities.

Eversource

Eversource officials said they are preparing for the weekend’s powerful snowstorm, and prestaging equipment, line and tree crews around Connecticut in advance of the heavy snowfall and high winds. In addition, the company is encouraging its customers to prepare ahead of the storm’s arrival.

With heavy snowfall and high winds expected late Friday night into Saturday, the storm may possible bring down trees or tree limbs onto electric lines and equipment causing power outages. In advance of the storm, the energy company said it has “hundreds of additional out-of-state crews” among those it is “strategically prepositioning … so they’re ready to respond quickly and safely to any storm-related outages.”

“We’ve had a close eye on this storm since the beginning of the week and continue to carefully track its path using several weather services and storm models,” said Eversource President of Connecticut Electric Operations Steve Sullivan. “This storm has been tough to track, and we aren’t leaving anything to chance. We have hundreds of crews flying in throughout the day [Thursday] — and more arriving [Friday] — from southern and western parts of the country, so we don’t have to wait for them to drive here. They’ll be geared up and ready to respond to this storm alongside our Eversource crews. We also remind customers that restorations may take longer as we ensure the safety of our employees who will be responding in challenging road conditions.”

In a press alert, Eversource reminded customers to “always stay clear of downed wires and to report them immediately to 9-1-1. Be sure to report any outage online or by calling 800.286.2000. Customers who signed up for the company’s two-way texting feature can send a text to report an outage and receive outage updates as they happen.”

There is an outage map on the Eversource website as well.