Robbie Short

Yalies who spent winter break away from campus missed a historically frigid New Haven. The Connecticut shoreline at Bridgeport saw the longest stretch of sub-freezing days since record keeping began, with two straight weeks of temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

“To put it in perspective, we’ve had these cold temperatures before, but for it to last this long — we had a stretch where it did not go above 32 degrees [for two weeks],” said meteorologist Kevin Arnone. “That has been what has been so remarkable.”

New Haven’s cold streak, which lasted 14 days, ended on January 9th. That date, New Haven Tweed Airport reported a temperature of 42 degrees F, according to the website Weather Underground. Joseph Furey, co-chief meteorologist on WTNH’s Storm Team 8, told the News that at one point, the temperatures were “more in line with central Quebec” than Connecticut.

Many residents along the Connecticut coast had to contend with frozen pipes and deep freeze in rivers, lakes and ponds due to low temperatures.

New Haven was also hit by strong winds and a snowstorm, which covered different parts of the county with 8 to 14 inches of snow on Jan 4th and intensified unusually quickly, according to meteorologist Sam Kantrow. Arnone and Kantrow both said the storm’s intensity corresponded to a rapid pressure drop.

The resulting conditions posed challenges to road clearing and maintenance and public safety.

“The real issues we had were the fourteen inches of snow, the low temperatures, the wind. When you blend all those three things together, you had really life-threatening conditions on the streets,” said Rick Fontana, New Haven’s director of emergency operations. “The city has responded. We … put an unprecedented number of snow ploughing equipment on the street, coordinating with Public Works Department, Parks Department and outside contractors.”

Fontana stressed the importance of protecting the homeless from the weather conditions. In an interview with the News, he said the shelters have been at full capacity and stayed open 24 hours a day all week.

The low temperatures have also created problems for road-clearing crews. According to Jeff Pescosolido, the director of New Haven’s Public Works Department, road clearing efforts proceeded normally, despite the “quick and heavy” nature of the storm. Still, he said, cold temperatures complicated the department’s efforts to deal with the storm.

Pescosolido said the road salt the department uses, which is standard material, does not work well at colder temperatures. The department had to use sand in addition to the usual salt for traction.

The cold weather affected the department’s vehicle fleet, impairing batteries and diesel fuel, which Pescosolido explained sometimes gels up in the cold, making it harder for vehicles to start.

“The men who are working need to go out there and work,” he said, emphasizing that the department takes every effort to ensure the safety of those working on the roads, particularly in inclement weather.

Josh Palmer ’21, an East Haven resident, told the News that this was one of the roughest winters he has seen.

“It’s tough because you had this extreme cold,” he said. “[The storm] strengthened incredibly fast. There were some windy conditions, with less than a quarter of a mile of visibility. It was impossible to get out of your driveway before they plowed. It was so deep.”

The lowest temperature recorded in the state of Connecticut was minus 37 degrees Fahrenheit in 1943.

Keshav Raghavan | keshav.raghavan@yale.edu