Yale students are enjoying a historic snow day — the first since 1978 — in the wake of New Haven’s most powerful snowstorm in a hundred years.
The weekend’s blizzard dropped 34 inches of snow on the Elm City in just 24 hours, breaking the snowfall record set by the blizzard of 1978 — the last time Yale cancelled classes for snow.
University Vice President Linda Lorimer sent an email to the Yale community at 5:08 p.m. Sunday night confirming that classes are cancelled and urging staff performing non-essential services to stay home. Commons dining hall will open for hot breakfast and brunch, and residential college dining halls will serve brunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and dinner from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The University decided to cancel classes primarily due to the condition of New Haven roads, Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Linder said in an email to the News. As of Sunday night, the main arterial streets in New Haven had been cleared but the city travel and parking bans remained intact as city workers continued to clear secondary streets.
“Stay home, stay off the roads and stay safe so we can clean up our City and ensure public safety while we do it,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said in a Sunday evening press release.
The blizzard has wreaked havoc throughout the northeastern United States since it began Friday evening. An estimated 40 million people regionwide were affected by the storm, and over 650,000 people lost power.
The force of the blizzard caused coastal flooding and forced evacuations in Long Island and Massachusetts. While officials worked to prepare for the storm — including a travel ban imposed 4 p.m. Friday by Gov. Dannel Malloy — at least 11 people in the United States lost their lives in the blizzard.
On Sunday, President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Connecticut, and federal emergency relief funded emergency devices such as snow removal equipment. Malloy expressed thanks for the federal assistance but stressed that residents should stay off the roads.
“This declaration will provide much needed assistance to the state and our towns and cities as we continue to recover from this historic winter storm,” Malloy said following Obama’s declaration. “While the ban on travel has been lifted, we are continuing to urge residents to stay off the roads, if at all possible.”
The storm covered New Haven, in particular, with frightening speed — from 10:30 p.m. on Friday night to 1 a.m. on Saturday morning about 8 inches accumulated in the Elm City. But though the storm raged in New Haven, not many residents experienced power outages and all power in the city had been restored by Sunday evening, according to City Hall spokeswoman Anna Mariotti. Forty trucks from the city’s department of public works are busy plowing the roads with support from the National Guard, although a Sunday City Hall press release said that so much snow remains on the streets that heavy machinery must be used to move the snow before normal plowing can occur.
The heavy snowfall also hurt regional transportation, with airline companies dramatically reducing service following the storm and Metro-North canceling trains from New York to New Haven, leaving Yale students, such as Zak Newman ’13, stranded in the Big Apple over the weekend. Newman, who was visiting Washington, D.C., to interview for a job and work on his senior essay, was stuck in New York City on his way back to campus.
Tomorrow, Metro-North will resume a limited a.m. peak service from Stamford to New Haven, which is about 50 percent of the normal a.m. peak service, according to the Metro-North website.
Linder told the News that road conditions in New Haven remain problematic for travel.
“The city is fighting more snow than it’s seen in years, so the snow removal operation will take several days,” Linder wrote. “The city has made progress plowing main roads, but many side streets remain unplowed.”
She added that there have not been many injuries to those affiliated with Yale or Yale’s campus.
City Hall, New Haven Public Schools, Gateway Community College, New Haven Free Public Library and the city’s senior centers are all closed Monday.