Record-Breaking Snowfall Hits Connecticut

Winter Storm Benedict buries a front yard in Connecticut

Winter Storm Benedict buries a front yard in Connecticut. Photo by Brenna McKinley

Eric Churchill stood outside of Angela’s Fine Jewelry in Portland, Connecticut shortly after the store’s opening on January 13. His gaze shifted between the neon “Open” sign in the icicle-laden window and the three-foot snow drift piled up before the un-cleared path to the business’ front door from the scantily-plowed parking lot.

Churchill glanced down at his insulated work boots and shrugged before making the trek through the aftermath of Winter Storm Benedict to the front door of the store.

“The sign said ‘open’ and I had already made it there,” said Churchill, who treated Connecticut’s record-breaking snowstorm, having dropped 25 inches of powder at Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport, as nothing more than an inconvenience. “I wasn’t about to turn around.”

Not all Connecticut residents shared Churchill’s cordial attitude toward the crippling winter weather, though. Portland resident, Bill McKinley’s quarter-mile long driveway required extra maintenance, which comes at a cost.

“Plowing just for Benedict alone cost us over $100,” McKinley said. “We usually pay around $350 a winter, and winter’s not even close to over yet.”

Accuweather’s Senior Meteorologist Tom Kines agrees. He told Hebron Today that Winter Storm Benedict made for one of the top five snowiest Januaries in the Hartford area-halfway through the month and before another storm dropped an additional 7 inches one week later.

With current temperatures in Connecticut having highs in the low 20s and overnight lows in the negative numbers, Benedict’s trail does not show any sign of melting soon. This leaves many residents wondering where all of the snow is supposed to go as storms continue to pass through the state.

Those who manually remove their own snow face an extra obstacle as hardware stores across Connecticut such as Lowe’s Home Improvement sold out of snow blowers hours before Benedict even began. Disappointed residents had no choice but to start clearing the shelves of snow shovels instead. Faced with storm after storm, residents wind up heaving shovels full of snow over banks already taller than many of the residents themselves.

According to WFSB Eyewitness News, newly-elected Connecticut governor Dan Malloy gave all non-essential state employees a snow day when Benedict hit. However, essential employees, including the 632 state plow drivers and the other 1,300 Connecticut weather maintenance workers cost the state nearly $85,000 per hour during the 15-hour snowstorm. These hourly wages will continue to dig into the winter weather budget for the rest of the snow season, which can last into late March.

Inconveniences that piled up after Benedict will continue to hassle Connecticut residents with the steady flow of snow, including U.S. Postal Service mail carriers being forced to store mail in local post offices for residents to come claim until mailboxes snowed in by plows were dug out and snow banks up to 5-and-a-half feet high obstructing the views of drivers.

These abnormally tall snow banks have proven to be just as hazardous a problem as snowy and icy conditions on the roads themselves. They obstruct the views of drivers exiting driveways and parking lots to the extent that drivers needed to make a leap of faith onto the main roads.

“It was scary,” said Elizabeth Slocum, who had to commute across Portland and Glastonbury in the days following Benedict. “There was no visibility pulling out of driveways and parking lots. And it was just as scary being on the roads scared that a blind driver was about to pull out in front of you.”

This record breaking snow season may not have even reached its peak and will continue to challenge Connecticut emergency operations to find cheap, efficient, and safe ways to clear the roadways as powder takes over Connecticut.

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