HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell this morning met with state police, emergency management, transportation and military officials to get an update on the winter storm approaching Connecticut then held conference calls with major Hartford-area employers to coordinate the staggered early release of state and private-sector workers.
The moves are intended to avoid gridlock and help Department of Transportation snowplows keep roads and highways clear, according to a press release from Rell’s office.
By late morning, the snowfall was already affecting driving conditions in Fairfield County and along the Interstate 95 corridor, Rell said in a press release earlier. The storm did not arrive in central Connecticut as quickly as forecasters first expected – but it is moving north at a steady 20 mph or so, and by early afternoon the predictions call for a snowfall of up to 3 inches an hour.
As a result, all non-emergency Hartford city employees will be dismissed at 3:00 p.m. today and City Hall will be closed, according to the Mayor of Hartford’s city spokeswoman, Sarah Barr.
However, all required personnel, including but not limited to Public Works, Public Safety and Emergency Services and Telecommunications employees in the city will be required to work and report as regularly scheduled.
“The priority for every employer is safety first,” Rell said.
Rell also said employers who are releasing their workers early have agreed to begin a methodical release of staff between noon and 1 p.m.
One third of workers will be released at noon, another third at 12:30 p.m. and the last third at 1 p.m. This will avoid a mass exodus that ties up the highways while getting people home safely before the worst of the storm hits Greater Hartford.
During a briefing at the state Emergency Operations Center (EOC), agency heads advised Governor Rell that a brief lull in the snowfall experienced in central Connecticut during the late morning was due to a mass of dry air that crossed the state. That dry air caused the heaviest snowfall to arrive later in the day than originally expected.
The latest snowfall predictions call for coastal Connecticut to feel the brunt of the storm, with projected accumulations of up to 16 inches. As much as a foot of snow is expected from Danbury to Middletown, while the Hartford area could receive 8 inches to 10 inches and northern Connecticut is expected to see around 6 inches.
The DOT worked Tuesday evening to pretreat roads in advance of the storm and has all of its snowplows and contractor plows activated. As a result of the early releases, CT Transit buses are running an early, supplemental service.
Rell has ordered a partial activation of the EOC, located in the William A. O’Neill Armory in Hartford. Agencies including the DOT, the Connecticut State Police, the Military Department and the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security will be monitoring the storm.