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Sunday, November 17 News

State braces for epic storm

As  the state braced for a potentially deadly blizzard, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ordered the state to essentially shut down after 9 p.m. Monday, in anticipation of as much as 3 feet of snow.

In Hartford, Malloy said that while Monday might be relatively normal, the bulk of the storm was expected to hit Tuesday, with heavy snow accompanied by high winds. Citing the lessons of the February 2013 storm that paralyzed the state, he stressed the need to keep roads free of traffic while Department of Transportation crews work.

The Connecticut National Guard announced that soldiers and airmen throughout the state are reporting for duty and readying equipment to assist the in response to the storm.

The Connecticut National Guard's focus overnight will be supporting the State Police assisting any stranded motorists on state highways or responding to any emergency coastal evacuations during high tide. A total of 16 highway assistance teams equipped with four-wheel drive vehicles have been positioned at more than a dozen military facilities throughout the state.

Municipal officials around the state urged people to stay off local roads as well.

After morning conference calls with state agencies and municipal leaders, Malloy, speaking with reporters in the basement of the William A. O'Neill State Armory, said the storm is expected to be a long one, with snow accumulations between 22 inches and 3 feet, with windblown drifts up to 4 feet high by late Tuesday.

To get commuters home from New York City before the snow got really heavy, Metro-North Railroad announced it would add 18 departures from Grand Central Terminal between 1 and 4 p.m. Monday, and would cancel or combine 14 trains that would normally depart from Grand Central after 5 p.m.

Metro-North officials said they had taken many other precautions for the big storm. Extra engineers and signal maintainers were being called in, and railroad officials said they would take steps to ensure that switches -- the interlocking tracks that allow rail traffic controllers to route trains from one track to another -- would remain functional throughout the storm.

The railroad was activating switch heaters, lubricating the switches and treating them with anti-freeze agents. Track workers were to be positioned in critical locations to address any switch problems that come with the storm.

As many as 110,000 customers of Connecticut Light & Power and 10,000 United Illuminating customers were projected to lose power in the latest computer modeling of the storm, which is expected to hit hardest in the Boston area. Crews have been brought in from as far away as Ontario to assist the utilities.

Malloy announced a civil preparedness emergency and a travel ban for the entire state starting at 9 p.m.

"Please prepare a plan to get home this evening safely and find a place to stay for the duration of the storm," the governor said in the 14-minute news conference.

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"It will intensify this evening and become very heavy by midnight and that includes snowfall rates of up to 4 inches per hour and winds of up to 60 mph along our coast," Malloy said. "We encourage citizens to stay in place during the duration of the storm."

Buses throughout the state were to stop at 8 p.m., and Metro-North schedules for Tuesday were to be determined later.

"We don't want buses stranded," Malloy said, stressing the need to keep roads clear. "While we have crews working around the clock, any time you have blizzard conditions and have several feet of snow, it will take time to clear all roads for safe travel.

"We believe this will be a long-duration cleanup, and I urge everyone to plan accordingly." Malloy said. "This afternoon, please get off the roads as early as possible. If you can leave work early or work from home, please do so."

Ken Dixon, Frank Juliano and John Burgeson contributed to this report.