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Snowfall costs are adding up for Stonington

STONINGTON — Winter’s latest punch cost the town’s taxpayers $16,205 in overtime costs for snowplowing. That leaves about $73,000 remaining in the town’s $120,000 plowing budget for this season.

There was an additional cost of $9,421 for salt, which comes from a separate $131,000 budget line item for snow materials.

The storm, which First Selectman Edward Haberek Jr. described as “medium-sized,” did not leave as much snow in its wake as predicted. The area received roughly half a foot of snow, far less than the 12 or even 18 inches that some meteorologists had predicted.

“We fared well,” he said.

A parking ban was announced before the storm, and Haberek said it gave residents enough time to get their cars off the streets. No cars had to be towed. Five cars were towed in Westerly.

After treating the roads with a sand and salt mixture before the snow started on Tuesday, plows went out about 3 p.m., Haberek said, and continued until about 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Although the snow has been cleared, he cautioned that some of the side roads remain slick, due to the arctic air. Road salt does not work as well in extreme cold. Temperatures have dipped as low as single digits, without considering the wind chill, and the cold is expected to stick around for a few days.

“The bitter cold makes it tough,” he said.

There is sand mixed in with the salt, however, which provides some traction even if it’s too cold for the salt to create melting. The town is now working on clearing some of the public sidewalks, Haberek said, before they freeze over and become more difficult to clear.

Should there be a widespread power outage, or a power outage that affects many people, such as at a hotel, then the town will open a shelter at Stonington High School, which has a generator, Haberek said.

The National Weather Service is calling for snow showers Saturday, mainly after 3 p.m., but with a high near 38 and a south wind of 15 to 23 mph. Gusts, however, could reach 43 mph. Little or no snow accumulation expected. The low Saturday night is expected to be around 16, and Sunday’s forecast is for a slight chance of snow showers after 4 p.m. with a high near 23 and a west wind of 11 to 14 mph.

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