Connecticut braces for record cold after snow

Jim Hoffer reports from Bridgeport.
January 3, 2014 3:42:39 PM PST
More than 200 accidents were reported in Connecticut as a winter storm slammed the region and potentially record-breaking cold temperatures are on the way.

State police reported 224 accidents with 25 minor injuries, a crash with a serious injury and 2,719 calls for service by Friday morning. In Torrington, a car hit a state Department of Transportation bucket truck, said state police Lt. J. Paul Vance. The driver of the car was seriously injured, he said.

Temperatures were in the single digits in parts of the state with the wind chill making it feel below zero.

Much of Connecticut received an average of 4 to 8 inches of snow. The National Weather Service said the bitter cold will continue with temperatures expected to fall below zero overnight in Connecticut and could set a record.

Strong winds with gusts of up to 35 mph were adding to the cold. The city of Meriden opened warming centers for the next two days.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked commuters on Friday to avoid "optional travel" for at least a few hours more to allow plows to remove snow.

Officials have received 127 calls for shelter information, and four people were taken to shelters on Thursday night. Shelters operated at 120 percent of capacity on Thursday night and extended their hours of operation allowing residents to stay in shelter during the daytime.

Michael Connors, 33, handled the cold with an arctic jump suit as he shoveled in front of businesses in downtown Fairfield on Friday morning. "It's light and fluffy, so it's easy," he said.

"The roads are passable if you have a four-wheel drive," Connors said.

Tom Murray, 29, a Bridgeport resident, was pumping gas Friday morning and said the roads were "pretty bad."

"The cold isn't what bothers me. It's just the driving conditions," he said.

Airfields at Connecticut's Bradley International Airport have been cleared of snow and operations have resumed, but many airlines canceled flights.

Metro-North said the storm forced it to reduce its commuter rail service to a Saturday schedule.

Ondrea Jefferson, a 35-year-old Bridgeport resident, braved the snow and frigid weather to get to work Friday morning.

With no buses running at 5 a.m., Jefferson said she walked over a bridge until she got a ride from a stranger and then caught a cab to arrive at her job at the gas station/convenience store in Fairfield at 6 a.m., her usual start time.

"The snow was like beating me up in my face, like I'm going to war with the snow," Jefferson said. "I had to just troop it out."

Jefferson figured she'd be able to get a bus home after work.

"Don't let this day be like I'm not going to make it work," she said. "Sometimes you have to sacrifice. Also pray."

Associated Press writer Stephen Singer contributed to this story.

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