Towns prepare for snowstorm

Snow falls in downtown Naugatuck during a storm in January 2011. A severe winter storm is expected to hit the area Friday and Saturday. –FILE PHOTO
Snow falls in downtown Naugatuck during a storm in January 2011. A severe winter storm is expected to hit the area Friday and Saturday. –FILE PHOTO

With as much as two feet of snow forecast to hit the state Friday into Saturday, local officials are preparing for what could be the biggest snowstorm so far this winter.

Weather professionals are predicting the snow will start early on Friday and into Saturday morning. At times the snow could fall at a rate of 2 to 4 inches per hour and visibility could be zero.

Gary Lessor, chief meteorologist at Western Connecticut State University, told the Republican-American that this snowfall could more than double the snowfall total so far this season, currently at 21.8 inches.

Naugatuck and Region 16 (Beacon Falls and Prospect) have canceled school on Friday and town officials are getting ready for the snow.

“Every truck we own has a plow and sander. We even have a snowblade on a payloader,” Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield said.

Chatfield added the Department of Transportation is currently storing salt in Prospect as well. Therefore, when the town trucks run out of salt, they can remain in Prospect to refill rather than traveling to Waterbury or Beacon Falls.

Chatfield said the trucks would be ready to go as soon as the snow starts falling.

One thing Prospect has going for it this winter is the new public works garage that was completed in November.

“The new public works garage is coming in real handy,” Chatfield said.

Naugatuck Mayor Robert Mezzo said on his blog the borough is getting ready as well.

“Naugatuck Public Works crews will be pretreating roads in anticipation for the storm, and are prepared to respond accordingly throughout the weekend,” Mezzo wrote.

Mezzo said Town Hall and all other non-emergency management departments will be closed on Friday.

Mezzo reminded residents that the sidewalks in front of their houses were their own responsibilities and needed to cleared.

“We ask that all reasonable efforts are made to comply with this requirement,” Mezzo said.

A parking ban is also in effect in Naugatuck starting Friday at 8 a.m.

Beacon Falls First Selectman Gerard Smith said the town is preparing for the storm as it does with every other snowstorm.

“The trucks loaded, the plows are on, bring on snow,” Smith said.

Smith said Town Hall will remain open since it is only open until 2:30 p.m. on Fridays anyway and the storm is not supposed to be bad until later in the day.

“Everybody is on alert. Everybody knows it’s a mandatory work day,” Smith said.

If the storm does get worse earlier in the day, Smith said he will close Town Hall at noon.

The Beacon Falls Public Library will also be closing at 2:30 p.m. Friday, rather than its usual 5 p.m.

As of this post, Chatfield said he was waiting to get a final forecast before deciding whether to close public buildings in Prospect.

Chatfield, Mezzo, and Smith are all ready to take action if the storm turns out to be worse than predicted.

Mezzo has already declared a state of emergency beginning Friday and running through Monday morning.

“While there is no immediate threat to public safety, the declaration will expand our options to respond to the storm and its aftermath,” Mezzo wrote.

Mezzo pointed out that residents should also be prepared for this storm in their own homes.

“Please ensure that you have an adequate level of food, gas and other supplies, and that mobile communication and computing devices are fully charged. Due to heavy winds, power outages may occur,” Mezzo wrote. “Due to the volume of snow throughout neighborhoods, many private driveways may be impacted. Any assistance that can be provided to a neighbor in need is greatly appreciated.”

Chatfield said that the Prospect Fire Department will be on alert throughout the storm. Assistant Fire Chief William Lauber is making preparations to have people stay at the fire house if necessary, he said.

Prospect will also have extra police officers on duty, Chatfield added.

Smith said the emergency shelter in Beacon Falls will be opened on an as needed basis. He felt that the snow will probably not cause any issues, but he was wary about the high winds predicted.

“This is New England, we’re as ready as we can be,” Chatfield said. “The best part is it’s going to in the 30s and 40s next week.”