Although Winter Storm Juno swept through New Haven with far less snow than forecasted, city officials maintained on Tuesday that their precautions were necessary and yielded a successful emergency operation.
The National Weather Service predicted that 24 to 36 inches of snow would fall on the Elm City, and both the city and the state undertook preemptive measures in order to prepare for the blizzard. However, only approximately a foot of snow blanketed the city, Deputy Director of Operations at the city’s Emergency Operations Center Rick Fontana said at a noon briefing on Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon both the city and state lifted the travel ban that had been in place since Monday night, although a parking ban on emergency routes and one side of neighborhood streets is still in effect in New Haven until noon Thursday.
“We wanted to ensure that we were prepared for 36 inches of snow,” Fontana said. “It was easier to ramp up than to scale back.”
Fontana said the city’s homeless shelters, which increased their capacity for the storm, were fully occupied on Monday night. Battalion Chief Matthew Marcarelli said that for the duration of the storm, the fire department increased personnel and worked with the private medical transport company American Medical Response to ensure that there were paramedic ambulances stationed at firehouses.
Fontana said that New Haven public safety officials had a relatively slow night on Monday, with only approximately 25 calls made to the fire department and EMS.
No power outages occurred during the storm, according to a United Illuminating official at the briefing.
Fontana said that officials would not announce a definitive time for when the city would resume normal operations. He added that there would not be another update on the storm unless necessary.
“We remain in the midst of a successful storm response operation,” Mayor Toni Harp said during the briefing.
In a state press conference at noon on Tuesday, Gov. Dannel Malloy also defended the decision to impose a travel ban, saying that hundreds of accidents had been avoided. Malloy stressed that the parts of the state with less snow than expected should work to get state commerce “back on its feet.”
City officials praised residents’ cooperation with the travel and parking bans as well as the collaboration between various city departments. Fontana noted that the city used Winter Storm Nemo, which brought 34 inches of snow in 24 hours to New Haven in February 2013, as a benchmark for this year’s preparations.
Crews, including those of subcontractors, focused on clearing snow from main streets on Monday night, according to Director of Public Works Jeff Pescosolido. He said these crews would focus on widening main streets and clearing residential streets on Tuesday.
City officials hosted a demonstration of a newly acquired, 10-foot-wide snow blower on Tuesday afternoon in front of City Hall. New Haven recently acquired new snow clearing equipment in light of an aging fleet, Harp told the New Haven Independent. City Hall Director of Communications Laurence Grotheer said this new equipment would clear streets more efficiently than the old equipment.
Director of Transportation Doug Hausladen ’04 said that he expected residents to be able to return to work starting Wednesday, given that Metro North began running Tuesday afternoon and CT Transit is set to be fully operational by Wednesday morning.
Yale Emergency Management Director Maria Bouffard agreed with the precautionary measures taken by the city and state, explaining that the University, like the state, would rather over-prepare than face the possible consequences of a severe storm.
“We made the right decision [to cancel classes] based on the National Weather Service forecast,” Bouffard said. “They’re the professionals and our job is to react.”
In the state, Eastern Connecticut was hardest hit by the storm, with over two feet of snowfall.