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Sunday, February 25 News

Schools close ahead of ‘bomb cyclone’ storm expected Thursday

FAIRFIELD — Ahead of a major storm that may bring heavy snows, lashing winds and icy cold temperatures to coastal Connecticut, Fairfield Public Schools announced they would close on Thursday.

Executive Director of Personnel and Legal Services Collen Deasy sent a notice to all parents and staff just before 5 p.m. Wednesday alerting them that all public and parochial schools would be closed due to the impending snow storm.

With the nor’easter on the way, Public Works employees Wednesday were also preparing for the worst.

Public Works Supt. Scott Bartlett said the latest forecasts show snow starting between 1 and 3 a.m., and ending around 7 p.m. There should be an inch on the ground by around 5 a.m., but the forecast also calls for sustained winds of up to 29 mph during the storm and gust of up to 45 mph after the storm.

And dropping temperatures “have us concerned,” Bartlett said.

Because of the predicted winds, Bartlett said they have secured an additional tree crew for both Thursday and Friday, and Wednesday afternoon would be spent pre-loading trucks for a quick morning response.

“We don’t want to roll out too early, as we are concerned with the impact of the length of the storm on the crews,” Bartlett said. He also said that he expects crews will need a break Thursday night, but will be back on the road by daybreak on Friday to deal with the blowing snow.

The town will also be putting down liquid applications to help prevent snow packed roads, but Bartlett said residents should still expect to find some snow pack on streets, especially on the side roads.

“While it appears it will have impact to our area - we believe the timing will help to keep people home, therefore reducing accidents,” Police Chief Gary MacNamara said. “Travel in the morning will likely be impacted right through the morning rush hour and our encouraging people to stay home if they don’t have to drive.”

And because of the severe cold, MacNamara said they are also asking people to check on their neighbors throughout the storm, and to make sure to clear their sidewalks within 24 hours..

“We do not anticipate increasing police staffing, but that will be contingent upon severity, number of accidents and if there are significant outages or other calls for service,” MacNamara said.

Across the street at the Fire Department, Chief Denis McCarthy said they, too, will wait to make any decisions on additional staffing until Thursday morning.

“We will monitor the storm impacts, and, in particular, the high tides,” McCarthy said, “as well as wind damage/power outages.”

A high tide just over 7 feet is expected at 12:26 a.m., and an 8-foot tide is expected at 12:26 p.m.

The town has a snow clearing policy in place, that residents can find at http://www.fairfieldct.org/snowremoval, along with information on shoveling assistance for senior citizens.

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Main roads are addressed first, with special attention to steep hills and difficult intersections, following by side streets and then dead end streets. However, if main roads require repeated plowing, side streets will remain unplowed.

Homeowners are responsible for access to their driveway, and the only way to avoid extra shoveling is to wait until DPW crews complete their final cleanup. A road may have to be plowed several times in order to restore the full width.

Under town ordinance, property owners are responsible for clearing the ice and snow from sidewalks along their property within 24 hours after a storm. Property owners may be fined or charged the cost of removal. Residents are also asked to remember to shovel around fire hydrants.

While there are no rules about parking on the street during a storm, residents are asked to park in their driveways if possible, and not on the street. Not only does that allow for the plows to clear the width of the street, but reduces the possibility of damage to vehicles parked in the street.

Private plow operators are prohibited from pushing snow from driveways or parking lots onto town streets.

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