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Monroe Plow Crews Await 'Storm Hercules' Arrival

Monroe was only hit by a dusting of snow early Thursday morning, but "Winter Storm Hercules" is expected to bury the region under eight to 10 inches of snow tonight into the morning. The temperature is now 23-degrees and feels more like two, according to AccuWeather.

High winds are also expected. Interim Public Works Dir. Chris Nowacki says recent forecasts predict gusting winds of up to 30, 40 or 50 m.p.h. He warns drivers of snowdrifts, causing "whiteout" conditions.

"Plows can't always see vehicles parked close to the road," he said of the poor visibility.

Police Capt. Michael Flick, deputy director of Emergency Services, said, "Like any storm, if you don't have to be out, stay home."

The town has a parking ban in effect to allow Highway Department trucks to plow the roads. Any violations may lead to fines and vehicles being towed.

Flick said anyone who loses power should call Connecticut Light & Power to report it and for estimates on when it may be restored. The number is 1-800-286-2000.

Calm Before the storm

At around 3:45 p.m., Nowacki spoke with drivers at the Highway Garage on Purdy Hill Road. A mechanic had just gone out for a part for an engine of one of the town trucks parked in the garage with its hood propped open.

"Guys have time to go home and make sure their own houses and families are ready to go — and have a hot meal before coming back here tonight," Nowacki said.

In the meantime, he said a skeleton crew was on duty for anything that was needed and to monitor the situation.

"I told them, 'Don't be afraid to make an early call,'" Nowacki said of the possibility of the storm arriving sooner than expected.

Once the storm hits, he said Monroe will have a full crew of 19 staff members — including mechanics — and four contractors to plow the roughly 143 miles of town roads. On average it takes six-and-a-half to seven hours to plow and treat the entire road system, according to Nowacki.

During the day, he said Public Works made preparations, checking on all town buildings, including the Monroe Senior Center, which is used as the town's primary emergency shelter.

"I asked when the last propane delivery was and was told the tank was topped off this morning, is full and ready to go," he said of the center. "The generator and the heating source is full."

Town Emergency Management Dir. David York has had discussions with Social Services Dir. Barbara Yeager earlier in the day about any emergency sheltering needs, Nowacki added.

As the town awaits Hercules arrival, Nowacki said he was happy that his drivers have a chance to rest up for the major workload ahead. He said, "I'm just glad those guys can get out of here and do what they have to do, because these guys have families."
Chuck Anziulewicz January 02, 2014 at 05:08 PM
"Hercules?" What gives you the impression this snow storm has a name? Hurricanes and typhoons have names, given to them by the appropriate government agency. Snow storms do NOT have names. The National Weather Service (NWS) hasn't named the snow, nor has the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Neither the NWS, NOAA, nor anyone I know is referring to this storm as "Hercules." Oh, WAIT A MINUTE. You must be referring to The Weather Channel. Yes, in what can only be described as a shameless, pretentious publicity stunt, they have taken it upon themselves to start naming every snow event that comes along, and in the process they have become a bit of a laughingstock. Who knows? Maybe this summer, when things have started quieting down, they'll start naming HEAT WAVES! We are experiencing a snow storm, not "Hercules." Please stop pandering to The Weather Channel's sense of self-importance.
Bill Bittar (Editor) January 02, 2014 at 05:15 PM
It's the nickname the Weather Channel is calling it. I didn't make it up on my own. It's also been all over the radio today.
Bob Loblaw January 02, 2014 at 05:36 PM
Sounds like someone needs to try switching to Decaf
QWERTY January 03, 2014 at 09:17 PM
I'm not bashing the hard work these guys put in....but the roads as of Friday night were still pretty awful. This includes both town and state roads. But I'm sure the frigid temps are contributing to the chaos.
Alex January 03, 2014 at 09:29 PM
Would you prefer the Blizzard of 2014? It's no different than when we named blizzards after the year, its just if you had two huge blizzards that year, you'd have trouble knowing which one unlike with names. If more people pay attention to the weather because we name storms then I say that's a good thing.
Carl Kolchak January 04, 2014 at 02:05 PM
Looks like Chuck Anziulewicz posted the same exact rant on a dozen or so Patch sites. Wow, somebody takes his meteorology VERY seriously.

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