Snow emergency in effect, several feet of snow and coastal flooding are potential concerns

UPDATED FRIDAY 2:20 P.M. — The town is warning residents to take care as the blizzard begins to hit Greenwich and heavy snowfalls and potential flooding in low-lying areas remain concerns.

The town’s snow emergency went into effect at noon on Friday and Gov. Dannel Malloy has also declared a state of emergency today in preparation for the coming blizzard which is anticipated to heavily impact the state Friday and Saturday.  In a Friday press conference., Mr. Malloy urged state residents to limit their nonessential travel so that emergency personnel and utility crews can have road priority.  On Mr. Malloy’s instructions, CT TRANSIT buses will begin shutting down Friday at 4 p.m. with all buses stopped by 6 p.m. That will be in effect until further notice.

A blizzard warning remains in effect for the entire state, as well as coastal flood warnings for Fairfield County.  This evening, snowfall rates of up to 5” per hour are expected, and zero visibility is forecast.  Lows will be dropping into the 20’s statewide with Northeast Winds gusting to 40 MPH inland and up to 60 MPH along the coast.,

According to a press release issued Friday afternoon by the first selectman’s office, snowfall accumulations of up to 36 inches are considered possible. Overnight travel will be especially treacherous Friday evening and the town has instructed residents to stay off the roads if possible.  Forecasts currently have Greenwich receiving anywhere from 10 to 16 inches of snow

Beyond the snow, the town will be keeping a close eye on on possible flooding in low lying and coastal areas.The town warned on Friday that the flooding potential will be greatest at the times of high tide with water elevations currently predicted to be at least six feet and perhaps as many as nine feet above normal.  Strong winds will accompany this event and the snow from this storm will be wet and heavy.  Power lines may be affected.  Residents should be prepared for both the possibility of flooding and temporary power outages. Connecticut Light and Power said that it has work crews ready to be deployed throughout the state on Friday in case of power outages. Power outages have been a repeated issue in Greenwich during extreme weather conditions with the long-term outages from the last major snow storm, the October 2011 storm, still fresh in people’s minds along with the damage from Superstorm Sandy this past October.

On Friday, CL&P said its approximately 400 line workers were ready with more being brought in for Saturday.

If power is lost, the town is stressing that residents exercise caution when using generators because of the potential of lethal carbon monoxide gas. The town issued several safety tips on Friday including never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage.  Opening the garage door does not make it safe. People should also never use a generator in a flooded area. Generators should be operated outdoors as far away from your house as possible.  The National Institute of Standards and Technology reports that even 15 feet away may still be dangerous because the CO fumes can enter the home through windows, doors or vents. People should never refuel a generator while it is running or hot. Additionally, electric or Gas stoves should never be used in an attempt to heat your home or any other heating element that may be dangerous in emitting gasses.

For additional information on safety tips go to http://www.nfpa.org/itemdetail.asp?categoryid=1531&itemid=37034

The Town’s Emergency Operations Center has been activated for the storm and all “appropriate municipal departments are preparing equipment and adding additional staff to be ready for this storm and its aftermath,” First Selectman Peter Tesei said on Friday.  The town’s snow emergency became effective at noon on Friday and Mr. Tesei said that it will continue into Saturday at least.  During the time of this emergency, vehicles are not permitted to be parked or otherwise remain standing or stationary on posted snow emergency routes during a snow emergency.  Vehicles not in compliance are subject to ticketing and immediate towing.  Off-street municipally-owned parking lots can be used for parking vehicles displaced from snow emergency routes.

Mr. Tesei said that “… all residents should take the opportunity to prepare for this storm by making a plan to get home early on Friday and to remain safely indoors until the storm passes.  Everyone should take the opportunity to check and refresh their family’s emergency kit.” He also urged residents to use caution when shoveling heavy snow to avoid injury.

Town public schools were closed on Friday and the private schools dismissed early. Additionally, several events scheduled for Saturday, including the Greenwich Police Department’s weapons exchange and the Smooch a Pooch fund-raiser have been postponed to later in February. Town services will also be closing early on Friday. The Bendheim Western Greenwich Civic Center will close Friday at 3:00 p.m. and the Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink will close today at 5:00 p.m.

On Saturday, the Bendheim Western Greenwich Civic Center will open at 8:30 a.m. and close 8:30 p.m. The Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 10:00 p.m. The Eastern Greenwich Civic Center will open at 7:30 a.m. and close at 11:00 p.m.

More information as it becomes available will be updated to Greenwich-post.com and twitter.com/greenwichpost.

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