Students and New Haven residents had an unexpected visitor during Family Weekend: a record-breaking October snowstorm that left New Haven with over four inches of snow.
With Connecticut blanketed in white, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced a state of emergency Saturday evening as the storm broke records throughout the East Coast. By 10 p.m. Sunday, 535 houses in New Haven and at least 788,000 statewide were in the dark, according to press releases from the electric utilities United Illuminating and Connecticut Light & Power.
“Never before in anyone’s recollection or in history has such a storm hit the state so early,” Malloy said Sunday morning. “This is the largest number of power outages that we have ever experienced.”
The storm set new records with over 20 inches of snowfall in the northeastern part of the state, according to the National Weather Service. The original Connecticut record for October had been 9.5 inches and was recorded in Norfolk, Conn. in 1987.
The damage of the storm was so severe due to the storm’s early arrival — since many trees had not shed their leaves yet they were particularly vulnerable to the wet, heavy snow and winds, according to the press release from United Illuminating.
While New Haven did not experience as much snow as the rest of the state, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said there was sporadic damage across the city.
“Wet snow and high winds have 100 downed trees and loss of power to 1400 households,” DeStefano said in an emergency notification to the city on Saturday night. “I have activated the city’s emergency operations center and street crews will be working throughout the night so if you have trees call the police department’s non-emergency telephone number to report it.”
At Yale, Deputy Secretary for the University Martha Highsmith said in an email early Saturday evening that the University was prepared for the snow, with crews to clear snow out of areas around Yale Health and “other areas of high importance.” Highsmith could not be reached Sunday to follow up on the storm’s effects on campus.
“We are staying ahead of the storm so far,” she said.
New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman said the department was called to deal with several downed tree branches and wires throughout the storm.
The NHPD also worked to redirect traffic and patrol the pockets of the city without power, Hartman added.
Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins said his department deployed officers in four-wheel drive vehicles on patrol to ensure they were able to traverse their beats. YPD Lieutenant Jay Jones said the YPD had already upped the number of officers on duty for Family Weekend, including putting extra beats on patrol on Chapel Street and around the Broadway precinct.
“We already have a lot of things in place,” Jones said. “Nothing in particular [has been put in place] in response to this snow.”
During the early parts of the storm, Malloy signed an executive order banning nonemergency traffic on the Wilbur Cross and Merritt Parkways due to treacherous conditions. The ban was lifted on Sunday.
As of Sunday evening, 11 deaths have been attributed to the storm throughout the Northeast.