West Hartford's Emergency Operations Center was in the "monitoring phase" throughout the day Friday, keeping an eye on the progress of the storm and the condition of the town's roads.
Mayor Scott Slifka said the team of town officials and department heads convened early Friday afternoon to confirm plans, which included holding off on a decision to open a shelter until the storm passed and the the extent of power outage could be determined.
"The wind is now picking up. We have been advising people to shelter in place all day, and during the night," Slifka said at 7 p.m. Friday. High winds, in excess of 30mph, are expected to last until early Saturday morning. The blizzard warning issued by the National Weather Service will remain in effect until 1 p.m. Saturday, and West Hartford is expected to receive upwards of 18 inches of snow.
"John [Phillips] and the Department of Public Works crews have been doing a fantastic job on the roads," Slifka said. However, he urged residents to follow the advice of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and stay off the roads until the storm passes.
Slifka said that he participated in a call with the governor on Friday morning as well as at 5:30 p.m. to coordinate plans and assess the situation statewide. He will partipate in another call at 10 a.m. Saturday.
West Hartford's emergency operations team will convene following the Saturday morning conference call with the governor and determine the town's next steps.
"Suddenly this seems routine. We've kidded among the staff that we've gotten good at this, but the residents, too, have been really good about following instructions," said Slifka. Phillips said earlier that the parking ban had been heeded and no cars needed to be towed.
While it is impossible to predict the impact of the expected high winds on power lines, Slifka said, "We now have a recent history of relatively minor events causing power outages in the hundreds or even thousands." Heavy rain and wind just last week brought down numerous trees and limbs, knocking out power and blocking roads. The Sunset Farm neighborhood was particularly hard hit.
Although the lack of a tree canopy and recent tree trimming work makes conditions favorable for less of an impact, Slifka said it's impossible to predict since "we haven't seen a combination of snow and wind like this in a long time."
As of 4 p.m. Friday, Gov. Malloy issued a travel ban for motor vehicles on the state's limited access highways. According to a news release from the governor's office, the probibition does not apply to: "emergency response and recovery vehicles, including public safety vehicles, utility vehicles, and vehicles carrying essential personnel or supplies.
The ban will remain in effect until further notice.