Greenwich braces for snow, ice in arctic blast

January 19, 2019

GREENWICH — Greenwich is bracing for the first snowstorm of 2019 — and for dangerously cold temperatures as the forecast calls for a plunge into arctic conditions across the area.

The wintry blast will begin Saturday afternoon, with snow, sleet and rain that will continue into Sunday. Then temperatures will plunge below freezing with below-zero wind chills expected Sunday night and into Monday.

“It will be all hands on deck,” town Emergency Management Director Dan Warzoha said Friday. The town will monitor the storm headed this way and deploy crews from the Highway Department and Department of Parks and Recreation as needed.

The snow is expected to begin around 5 p.m., picking up by 8 or 9 p.m. before turning to sleet and freezing rain after midnight.

“There’s a lot of potential here for a unique storm, depending on how the temperatures go,” Warzoha said. “We may be in a position to see more ice than snow. It’s just a matter of temperature and timing.”

The town could get four to five inches of snow, which will then be covered by rain and ice, he said. That, combined with the brutal cold, could cause big problems in town, he said.

Warzoha recalled the 1973 ice storm that left much of the town, particularly in Old Greenwich, without power for a week. There were so many downed wires and trees that it looked like a hurricane had hit, he said, calling that “a learning experience.”

As part of the preparation, Warzoha has been coordinating with the Red Cross and the Greenwich Fire Department, which is moving its emergency trailer over to the Western Civic Center.

For those seeking relief from the cold, the town will open warming centers in the lobby of the public safety complex, which is open 24 hours per day, and at Western Greenwich Civic Center, which will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.

The town’s Department of Health is also urging residents to take precautions against hypothermia and frostbite and to be careful with alternative heating sources in their homes.

“Heating systems during cold weather normally work ‘overtime’ and sometimes become faulty without warning,” the department said in a statement. “When this situation occurs, space heaters and fire places get used to stay warm; however, their use increases the risk of household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.”

The department advised residents to never bring portable generators inside homes or garages; they should only be operated outdoors. Residents should allow make sure carbon monoxide detectors are working and that inlets and outlets for furnaces are free of snow.

Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and vomiting as well as loss of consciousness. In such cases, everyone, including pets, should leave the house and 911 should be called.

Greenwich Library announced it will be closed Sunday due to the expected storm. Schools, libraries and town offices will be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


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