As Winter Storm Ashford hits the state, Connecticut residents prepared for the wicked weather.
Cities, towns prepare for the storm
Even before the first snow flake falls, city and town department of public works and highway workers put snow plans into action. Crews checked their salt supply and ensured they have enough gas for their plows.
"Hopefully storm doesn't last that long," said Mark Moriarty with the city of New Britain.
Many municipalities including New Britain were concerned about the expense in maintaining the roads on a weekend, compared to weekday.
"Overtime costs alone are about $3,000 an hour," Moriarty said.
Bristol city officials told Eyewitness News they expect to have more than 20 crews plowing city streets by Saturday afternoon. Nearly half of their team will be around 8 a.m. to pretreat city streets with salt.
The weather was good for local contractor such as Donato and Sons, who spent Saturday clearing the parking lot at West Farms Mall.
"It's not to bad right now, but it's going to get worse later," said Chris Errico of Donato and Sons.
In total, West Hartford had 23 crews out salting and plowing streets with their focus on side streets and busy roads.
"We'll be here till it's all over, until it's 100 percent done," said West Hartford Department of Public Works Director John Phillips. "Salt is called clearlane. It's a salt magnesium acetate, so it's a little less corrosive. So we'll probably make 2-3 applications before we go home tomorrow."
City of Hartford declares snow emergency
The city of Hartford declared a snow emergency Friday. Crews have been preparing Hartford roads since Thursday.
"We're as ready as I think we need to be," said Keith Chapman, who is the Hartford Department of Public Works Director. "All new route system assigned necessary vehicles liquid salt.
Each truck holds up to 2,000 gallons of liquid salt pre-treat the roads with. However, what is different this year, they're actually doing it 48 hours ahead of the storm
"This is our first year for liquid salt and are experience so far for last two small storms is, it's working very well," Chapman said. "So we'll expand our use of it."
Other firsts this winter season in Hartford include:
New snow routes
New GPS truck tracking system
Breakdown of plowing routes into six separate districts.
City officials said they're better prepared, than they've been in the past. Last year was rough at times.
"We've learned from the major storms over the last two years," stated Mayor Pedro Segarra in a statement Friday. "We need to be better prepared for the severe weather we know is imminent. Over 65,000 people come here to work every day and we have two of the largest hospitals in the region. I want our residents and anyone who commutes to the Capital City to know that all our streets will be open for emergencies at all times."
The only change city officials said they'll make since the last storm a few weeks ago is to lay down even more of the salt liquid on as many streets as possible.
"We took samples of where haven't used material and where we did, and we go from black pavement to ice that's really the difference," Chapman said.
Shoppers brave Winter Storm Ashford
The governor, police, city officials and meteorologists encouraged everyone to stay off the roads so that the crews can plow as much as possible.
However, customers throughout Connecticutwere purchasing snow blowers to help plow their snowy driveways.
"It's beautiful, slightly on the colder side," said shopper Sylvia Szarejko.
Near Corbins Corner in West Hartford, the city's full fleet was out plowing and salting the streets as shoppers make their way to West Farms Mall and surrounding shopping plazas.
"We live in a four season state, so it's nice to have snow around Christmas time," said shopper Peter Szarejko.
After hearing about a weekend snow storm, some families told Eyewitness News they decided to change their plans and begin their holiday shopping on Friday.
Snowy weekend expected to cause problems for some businesses
Many restaurants and businesses are expecting this weekend to be a bad one for sales.
"Every time, it snows, it's like a ghost town," said Kim Marchione, who is the manager at Riverview in Simsbury. "You can almost guarantee that its going to be gonzo. No one is going to come out."
During Storm Alfred, which was two years ago, many businesses did not have generators and they lost a lot of business. Since then, some have gotten generators because they don't want that to happen again.
People advised to stay off the roads Saturday, Sunday morning
Traveling conditions were expected to get worse on Saturday.
"Although this does not appear to be a major storm, it does have the potential to produce a significant amount of snowfall and create hazardous driving conditions," said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in statement Friday.
State police will have troopers in place on patrol on roads and highways ready for immediate response.
People are being advised anyone to have the following items in their vehicle, if they travel on Saturday:
fully-charged cell phone
bottles of water
nourishment bars or other non-perishable food
"During a snow event, reducing speed and expanding distances between cars is an absolute necessity for safe driving. If you become stranded in your vehicle in winter weather, stay with your vehicle and do not try to walk to safety. Call 911 from your cell phone for help. Run the motor for about 10 minutes each hour for heat. Open a window slightly for fresh air and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked," state police said in a statement Friday.
People pulled into the rest stop in Middletown with many of them trying to get home and others on their way to work.
"We had gone shopping while we were here so the truck is filled with groceries," Rosa Lopez said. "So we are going straight home and we're not going back out."
"We're normally not those kind of people who go out but it is what it is," Ivy Madara said.
Parking bans in effect
A parking ban will go into effect in Hartford at noon Saturday. Many cities and towns imposed bans on Saturday. For a full list of the parking bans, click here.