Schools across Rhode Island and Connecticut were closed and dozens of flights at T.F. Green Airport and Bradley International Airport were canceled as a winter storm hit the region with snow, sleet and freezing rain.
The National Weather Service expected the storm to dump up to 10 inches of snow and sleet in the northern parts of Rhode Island and Connecticut, with lesser amounts along the coast. The Weather Service issued a winter storm warning until 6 p.m.
The storm has created difficult driving conditions, most schools were closed and parking bans were in effect in a number of communities.
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s office said state offices would remain open.
In Connecticut, officials delayed the start of the legislature’s annual session from today to Thursday and ordered a delayed opening for state offices for nonessential state workers.
The severity of this latest storm was forecast well in advance and area residents scurried to local supply and hardware stores for sand and salt on Tuesday.
At Westerly Agway, assistant manager Matt Haggerty said the store was busy with customers looking for salt in advance of the storm. Some were getting sand as well.
“We’ve sold quite a bit of salt so far this winter,” he said, estimating they’ve gone through about 10 pallets of 50-pound bags or some 10 tons of salt.
Tuesday was busier than normal, Haggerty said, adding that the store took in three more pallets and had just a small supply of shovels remaining.
“We’ve got a fair supply of salt,” he said. “We’ll see how far that gets us. These storms are hitting us hard.”
At the Westerly Home Depot, more than 400 bags of salt and 200 bags of sand were sold on Monday and Tuesday, said Keith Gracie, assistant store manager. Gracie also reported selling more than 20 snowblowers during the last few days’ snow and ice.
In Stonington, Cash True Value Home Center experienced a similar rush for snow removal supplies. Manager Scott Nadeau said that numerous pallets, with between 50 and 100 bags per pallet, of salt and sand were sold on Tuesday morning.
“For this storm, with all the ice, sand and salt are the number one sellers,” Nadeau said.
Nadeau also said that the high level of sales in snow supplies was somewhat unusual for February, since most residents had already purchased salt and sand earlier in the winter.
“We start selling supplies in November, so unless it’s a really exceptional storm, we don’t sell as much later on in the winter,” he said.
The stores were expecting more deliveries of salt and sand in the next few days.
“We have trucks set up for delivery throughout the day,” Gracie said. “We want to have supplies on hand at all times.”
At Wyoming Hardware, store owner Linda Osborne said they were running low on salt. Osborne estimated that about a dozen bags of salt remained on the shelf by Tuesday at midday, with another dozen in storage.
“With all the storms we’ve had, last week and this week, we’ve sold more than usual,” Osborne said, adding that she was not sure they would be able to restock before today.
While McQuade’s Marketplace Manager John Clemens did not anticipate running out of supplies, he said the store had been especially busy throughout Tuesday morning, By early Tuesday afternoon, a steady stream of customers were still purchasing last minute salt, sand and food, and all but one cash register were open and running, Clemens reported.
“We’ve been very, very busy. It’s been nonstop,” he said.
The winter storm parking ban will be in effect for Westerly residents until 5 p.m. today.
In Stonington, the ban goes into effect once snow accumulation reaches 2 inches. If this happens overnight, vehicles must be moved by 8 a.m. the next morning.
Within the Borough, vehicles must be off of Water Street and parked on either the even or odd side of Main and Elm streets, depending on whether it is an even day or odd.