NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — A blizzard was confirmed in New London County on Saturday.
As of Saturday night, the wind was still whipping in New London. It was enough to make cars shake and almost take your breath away.
The city is basically empty except for Public Works crews and first responders but News 8 caught a few people shoveling the sidewalks.
New London Mayor Michael Passero told News 8 crews have been clearing the roads all day long but the problem they are facing once they are clear is that the wind blows the snow back.
They have around nine to 10 large vehicles out and a half dozen smaller vehicles. At this point, it is hard for them to keep up.
“It’s been a long time, I mean for me, I think it’s been probably at least five or six years since we had this kind of a snowfall and the way I remember it is because when we have to actually pick it up, put it in dump trucks and move it and that’s the type of snowfall we have today,” Passero said.
Passero said that is what he expects will need to happen over the next few days, bringing in dump trucks to manually remove the snow.
Many are saying to not go out if you do not have to in this weather and one of the reasons could be seen on Gov. Winthrop Boulevard where several cars have gotten stuck right in the road.
Earlier in the day, some tree workers from North Carolina and Florida were helping one driver by pushing her car to try to help her get back on her way.
“Yeah I think here in a few seconds we’ll be helping another lady,” said North Carolina tree worker Mike Sztyber, whose reputation now precedes him. “Oh yeah, that’s right, we’re always trying to help everybody we can.”
That help was much appreciated.
The workers are in the area to help power companies if there is an outage. They will remove any trees or branches which fall on power lines so power can be restored.
In addition to possibly getting stuck in a car, there is another reason people may not want to be driving or walking outside Saturday night.
News 8 noticed the light fluffy snow may be okay to walk through but there are some slippery spots underneath it and that is going to get even worse as the temperatures drop even more.
A blizzard has three requirements: sustained winds or gusts at 35 mph or greater, visibility of a quarter of a mile or less due to falling or drifting, blowing snow and that has to happen for at least three hours.
NELTS Inc. has an arsenal of snow-fighting machines, including a 24-foot plow, lined up ahead of the major winter storm. They also have a huge pile of salt.
The equipment is staged at a Waterford shopping plaza, which is one of several they clear each storm, totaling about 6.5 million square feet of pavement.
News 8 spoke to Tony Portunato, the owner of NELTS, who said he thinks there’s actually going to be even more snow than some predicted, but he said they’re ready.
We caught up with Portunato on Jan. 7 during one of the last major storms when he was plowing a shopping plaza in Waterford, and that is also when he was dealing with some equipment breaking down. He said they have a plan if things don’t go as planned.
“What we’ve been doing since pretty much Tuesday is feeling out machines, running them, making sure everything’s ready to rock and roll, have spare hydraulic hoses with us,” Portunato said. “All my service and fleet mechanics are ready to rock and roll. They have spare tires on the trucks, spare rims, hydraulic hoses. You name it, we’ve got it we’re ready to go.”
Portunato has more than 400 staff throughout New England who are also ready to go.
This weekend’s storm is one where if you don’t have to go out, don’t. That way it’s easier for the NELTS Inc.’s crews and others to do their job.
The Coast Guard also tells people to stay home or even come home. They don’t want to have to rescue anyone in a blizzard, and they also want people to stay safe.
“We have our fixed-wing aircraft flying offshore to make sure the fishing vessel fleets are aware of that, and they’re starting to come in,” Coast Guard Rear Admiral Tom Allan said.
They’re also making sure all their boats and crews are ready, just like Portunato’s crews are.