Connecticut’s first winter storm of the season in mid-November caught many people off-guard, including the Department of Transportation. Snow blanketed many areas of the state just as people left work. Although the DOT salted the roads, it wasn’t enough.
Crashes and stuck cars closed three highways, causing major back-ups. A man from Florida died when he left his spun-out vehicle and another car hit him. Connecticut is no stranger to snow and winter driving, so what went wrong this time?
More snow than expected
First, the state received more snow than expected, but not by a huge amount. Fairfield County took the brunt of it, but many areas received over half a foot. This may have been enough to cause trouble. Drivers knew there would be snow, but didn’t expect quite so much of it. Connecticut drivers are used to driving in snow, and they may have thought they could handle it.
The storm’s timing did not help matters, either. Anytime bad weather coincides with the rush hour commute, you have a terrible combination. Commuters hurrying to make it home blocked the plows trying to clear the roads. Police had to escort them out of traffic.
Operations center failure
Unfortunately, the storm also caught Governor Malloy off-guard. He was speaking on prisoner reforms in California at the time of the storm and did not activate the emergency operations center. Nor did his chief of staff, Brian Durand, who sought advice from the Transportation Commissioner.
Are you prepared?
If you haven’t done your winter car check, now is the time to do it. You should check the following before hitting the snowy roads:
- Battery. Many garages can test your battery. Carry jumper cables, even if you have a good battery. You may be able to save a neighbor in need.
- Fluids. Top them off, especially windshield washer fluid and anti-freeze. Keep your gas tank at least half-full, as well.
- Tires. Switch to winter tires if you have them. Otherwise, make sure your all-weather tires are in good condition.
- Lights. It gets dark much earlier, and you want other drivers to see you.
- Emergency kit. Make sure you fully stock your winter car kit with flashlights, water, snacks, a warm blanket, a first aid kit and kitty litter or sand.
Winter has only just begun. We will see more snow before the season is over. Stay safe and make sure you are prepared for the next winter storm.