A “crippling” and “historic” blizzard is set to strike the New England region this afternoon all the way through Tuesday night, according to New Haven city officials.
The area was originally under blizzard watch for the weekend and early yesterday morning, but a blizzard warning has since been issued for New York City, northeastern New Jersey, Long Island, the Lower Hudson Valley of New York and the southern half of Connecticut, including the Elm City. According to the National Weather Service, snowfall is expected to start around noon Monday, intensifying and reaching a moderate level during the afternoon. By nightfall, the snow will intensify at a rate of two to three inches per hour, and will be accompanied by strong, gusty winds reaching up to 60 miles per hour. Blizzard conditions can be expected overnight, extending through Tuesday.
New Haven’s Deputy Director of Operations of the Emergency Operations Center Rick Fontana said that both the city of New Haven and the University are working to prepare for the 24 to 36 inches of total snow expected, with potentially higher amounts of 40 inches in some areas under blizzard warning.
“We will leave no stone unturned in this storm,” Fontana said. “We will ensure that public safety is first and foremost, and we will have an adequate amount of equipment to deal with the storm.”
Fontana explained that this storm is different than what they are used to seeing. New Haven typically does not fall under blizzard conditions, and because of the rate of snowfall and the very fast wind gusts, Fontana dubbed it a “historic” blizzard.
New Haven residents can expect an emergency parking ban in the city tomorrow, Fontana added. Cars will only be allowed to park on the sides of the street with even address numbers to ensure that snow trucks can circulate through the city. On snow routes, residents will not be allowed to park on either side. Additionally, a phone line will be up and running to provide residents with periodic updates, while messages alerting residents about street sweeping and parking bans will be sent via the city’s alert system, according to Fonatna.
On top of these customary measures, new procedures have been implemented this year, Fontana said. The city fleet features nine new snow trucks, as well as a 10-foot wide snow blower that blows snow into a trailer dump instead of plowing it. Fontana said residents also could expect to be given more updates on parking bans and alternative parking options in school lots.
“Once the snow really gets under way around rush hour, we expect it will continue to snow right through a good part of Tuesday,” Fontana said.
In anticipation of the blizzard, public schools in New Haven will close two hours earlier today to help parents and students avoid the storm.
The University has also been preparing for the oncoming storm. The Emergency Operations Team, which includes Yale Dining, Facilities, Transit, Health, Security and Police has a plan in place and is ready for the storm, Director of Emergency Management Maria Bouffard said. Facilities is prepared to remove the snow, and Dining is making provisions to ensure food continues to be served.
Despite the severity of the blizzard, it is still unclear whether classes will be affected.
“Any discussion as to whether there’s going to be a delayed opening or cancellation or any interruption in the University will be made tomorrow,” Bouffard said.
Nonetheless, in 2013, when the Elm City experienced 34 inches of snow in the course of 24 hours, school administrators decided to close school for two days — the first time the University decided to cancel classes due to snow since 1978. That storm was the worst since 1897.
University President Peter Salovey and Provost Benjamin Polak will make the ultimate decision this year, weighing the severity and timing of the blizzard. Bouffard explained that Yale provides essential services — such as dining facilities and critical research — which makes it difficult to cancel classes.
Ezra Stiles College Master Stephen Pitti ’91, however, emailed his students that they should be prepared for possible interruptions to their schedules.
Officials in the New England area are also aware of the incoming blizzard. In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio told The New York Times that today’s storm would be “one of the biggest storms to ever strike New York City,” and that citizens should “prepare for something worse than we have seen before.” He added that schools in the city would most likely be closed on Tuesday.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also warned that several major highways in New York might be closed, according to the Times.