March 3, 2014 10:52AM
By Jesse Buchanan and Andrew Ragali
Local public works crews are preparing for snow tonight, in some cases loading the last of their salt supplies.
But the storm, previously expected to drop more than 6 inches of snow through Monday morning, will likely be far less significant, according to Gary Lessor, meteorologist at Western Connecticut State University’s Weather Center.
Earlier predictions for the storm have proven “extremely faulty,” Lessor said Saturday.
An arctic front coming through the region is now expected to push the storm south, Lessor said, meaning most parts of the state should expect less than two inches Sunday night, with precipitation ending by Monday morning’s commute. Some areas in the state may not even see an inch of snow, Lessor said.
To stretch remaining supplies of salt, Meriden Public Works Director Bob Bass said his crews are mixing sand with the salt. He has about 500 tons of salt left, enough for a major storm “and then a bit.”
On Friday, public works mechanics were making repairs to trucks, checking fluids and replacing blades on plows. Bass expects all the trucks to be available for the storm, but contractors will be hired if needed. He was preparing for eight inches of snow.
Bass said he’ll try to get more salt once the city is out.
“We’ll continue to communicate with the state to work on replacing our supply,” he said.
Towns and cities throughout the state are facing salt shortages after repeated snowstorms.
George Noewatne, the public works director in Cheshire, said the town has salt “enough for the storm, certainly.”
Lessor said that due to the arctic front, light snow showers could occur this afternoon. “It’s definitely going to stay very cold for the next week,” Lessor said.
Noewatne said low temperatures reduce the effectiveness of salt. He’s hoping for some warmer, sunny days that will help melt the snow.
David Lowell, executive vice president of Hunter’s Ambulance and a Meriden city councilor, said ambulances are positioned around the city before snowstorms. That allows crews to respond faster to emergencies even if driving is slow because of snow and ice.
“They’ll be on the east and west side,” Lowell said. “We’ll put them upon Broad Street.”
He praised the Meriden public works drivers for keep the roads clear in repeated storms.
“From a public safety standpoint, that’s huge,” Lowell said.
In large storms, extra paramedics are sometimes added to the ambulances to help carry people through the snow. Extra crews are brought on at times, Lowell said, and extra personnel are also on call.
Most commonly, paramedics have to deal with hand injuries from snowblowers and heart attacks brought on by shoveling.