Cindy Zeng

Forty snow plows and teams of Yale operations workers took to New Haven Monday night, clearing roads and salting sidewalks as the city braces for Winter Storm Piper. 

Snow Storm Piper, which left at least a million people powerless across the Midwest this week, is expected to dump roughly six inches of wet, heavy snow on New Haven through mid-day Tuesday and is the first snowstorm of the season.

Heating centers have extended their normal operating hours till 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28. New Haven city officials and Yale’s Office of Emergency Management have both activated response plans and hope to avoid any serious interruptions to life in the city. 

“This is the first storm of the season for people so we just want to make sure that everyone is safe,” New Haven Emergency Operations Director Rick Fontana said. “Please drive slowly, don’t tail the person behind you and use situational awareness. This snow is going to be heavy and it’s going to be wet, so please be careful.” 

According to Yale Director of Emergency Management George Hines, one of the most immediate concerns for the University is ensuring that students have access to dining halls on Monday morning. Hines told the News that the University has worked to ensure that there will be extra staffing for breakfast so that students have access to food in the morning. 

“There’s always concern for [power outages],” Hines said. “We have plans in place for power lines [going down] from icy conditions if a vehicle strikes a pole, so all those plans have always been in place and are in place in our facilities. Folks have that squared away.” 

Another concern for the University is the city’s parking ban in the downtown area.

The parking ban will go into effect from 11 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 27 until 8 a.m. on Tuesday,  Feb. 28 for all downtown streets bounded by Grove, South Frontage, State and Howe streets. The ban also applies to all snow emergency routes. 

“This probably affects more grad students than it does undergrads,” Hines told the News. “But there are undergraduates’ vehicles off campus, so we want to make sure that they don’t have their cars towed away.”

During the ban, drivers can park their cars in the Temple, Crown, State Street and Granite Square parking garages for three dollars while the ban is in place, according to New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker. The city has also opened up public school parking lots and Yale has opened ten lots to free parking. 

The 10 Yale lots include the following: the Amistad Garage, 344 Winchester Lot 1, 409 Prospect Street at the Divinity School Lot 16,  260 Whitney Avenue, 221 Whitney Avenue, 74 Ashmun Street, 297 Crown Street, the corner of Prince and Lafayette Streets Lot 199 and 199 Whitney Avenue. 

Elicker explained that the parking ban is in place to allow for snow plows to quickly clear streets, causing little disruption for drivers tomorrow. 

“Ideally, stay off the roads if you can,” Elicker said. “It causes our crews a lot more work if they’re working to clear streets but have to pull you out when they should be keeping each other and keeping the city’s streets safe and keeping the roads clean.” 

The city will send out roughly 40 plows on Monday night alongside contracted snow plows to clear the snow on city roads throughout the night. 

Director of New Haven Parks and Public Works Jeff Pescosolido also shared that the city has already treated roads for ice and will continue to do so during the storm. Hines added that the University will continue to salt sidewalks throughout the storm for Yalies tomorrow. 

“By midnight a full fleet of New Haven staff parks and public works vehicles will be on the road,” Pescosolido said. “There may be a transition to some rain making it more difficult to clear, but we will stick it out through the end and during the peak of the storm, 50 crews will be in the city clearing snow.” 

Winter Storm Piper originated in California, leading to a snow storm warning in Southern California for the first time in decades.

Yash Roy covers City Hall and State Politics for the News. He is also a Production & Design editor, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion chair for the News. Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, he is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight College majoring in Global Affairs.