Bitter cold begins in Connecticut following Winter Storm Bethany - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Bitter cold begins in Connecticut following Winter Storm Bethany

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Winter Storm Bethany is over, the next big newsmaker will be the bitter cold that's expected to grip the area through Saturday morning.

A record cold is forecasted for potentially two locations in Connecticut, Windsor Locks and Bridgeport, where the records for Jan. 4 are -7 and -1, respectively. Both marks were set in 1981.

Bridgeport already achieved a record 8 degrees early Friday morning and could go even lower by midnight. If the temperature in Windsor Locks drops to -3 by midnight, that will tie the Jan. 3 record.

Snow totals from Bethany ranged from 5 to 10 inches across the state with 9 inches reported in Guilford and Milford.

According to the Channel 3 Early Warning Weather Center, wind chill factors have been registered anywhere from 0 to -20. By Saturday morning, that's what the actual air temperature will be across the state.

Gusty winds will gradually diminish Friday night and it will be nearly calm by sunrise Saturday.  

Incredible recovery is expected for this weekend with highs in the 20s Saturday afternoon and highs in the 30s to near 40 on Sunday afternoon. The warmer temperatures will set us up for rain with the next storm, late Sunday afternoon or Sunday night.

Slideshow: Your Winter Storm Bethany photos

With the snow gone and bitter temperatures on their way, people once again hit the roads.

All 632 Connecticut Department of Transportation drivers worked 17-hour shifts in which crews spread thousands of tons of a salt and liquid magnesium chloride mixture on 5,500 miles of state roads. Then, the trucks plowed the roads clear.

"The secondary roads are messy," Joseph Quinn said. "The highways are all right."

As of 4:30 p.m., Connecticut State Police responded to more than 200 crashes including at least one fatal and that was before the evening commute.

"People gotta be careful, but all you can do is say a prayer," said Paul McCurda, who added he spun out, even while traveling slow.

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There were nearly 100 salt sheds across the state where DOT drivers load up about every three hours. The smaller trucks can hold up to 6 tons while the bigger ones, double that amount

People should expect to see DOT crews during the evening commute.

"Our concerns are blowing and drifting and icing," said Paul T. Rizzo, the transportation maintenance manager for the Connecticut Department of Transportation. "We still have what's melting now, is going to freeze later on." 

The DOT crews have been out since 6 a.m. on Thursday.

"These temperatures are really what's giving us the problems throughout the storm," Rizzo said. "It's hard to get the snow to melt at sub-zero temperatures."

At some point, DOT officials said they try and start cutting back workers, possibly by Friday night or Saturday morning.

"Once temperatures rise tomorrow, hopefully things will dry out," Rizzo said.

Read the latest forecast information in our weather blog

Friday night is expected to be bone-chilling cold, which will make it difficult for people with no place to stay warm.

New Haven emergency officials teamed up Thursday night and planned to do so again Friday night to get people without homes off the streets and into warm places.

"All of the police, actually everyone was in last night, every single police officer," said Mayor Toni Harp. "There was a team approach to get people off the streets."

Harold McMichael said he has been homeless since last year after he lost his home in a fire and then his full-time job. He is currently staying at an overflow shelter.

"A lot of people are in a tough situation," McMichael said.

When it's this cold outside McMichael and his buddies try to stay indoors at the public library in New Haven by playing chess or reading.

"It's also an opportunity to use the internet to look for jobs and stay out of trouble," McMichael said laughing.

Because space was tight at overflow shelters in the city, the hospitals had to help out as well. New Haven officials worked it out with Yale-New Haven Hospital to use some of the space inside their emergency room.

The people at Yale-New Haven Hospital even provided a warm meal and had social workers there to help connect people with resources. Harp said she plans to do the same again Friday.

"We don't want anyone on the streets tonight," Harp said. "It could be as low as 15 below."

McMichael and his friends are staying warm for now, but he said he's also relying on something else to get him through.

"You have to keep a positive outlook," McMichael said. "The resources are out there and do the best you can."

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The extreme cold and wicked weather can create problems for firefighters throughout the state.

To get calls safely during the winter months, all of the West Hartford fire trucks were equipped with chains.

"When we hit the 3-, 4- or 5-inch snow mark what we'll do is add tire chains to the truck for traction," said West Hartford Fire Department Lt. Kevin Munson.

Buried fire hydrants can also slow down response times and put lives at risk.

"If you don't take the time to clear it and we have to come out and do it, sometimes those fire hydrants will be inaccessible and time is never on our side during a building fire," Munson said.

Even after using the fire hydrants, first responders call in help from water crews to ensure the hydrants don't freeze.

"We have to make sure that when we use one if there's an unfortunate occurrence of a fire, we have them come out and rewinterize the hydrants so that it will be usable the next time we need it," Munson said.

To make sure firefighters can make it to the next emergency, each firefighter packs a small cold weather bag.

"What that will do is give them some dry clothes, some food," Munson said. "Some guys might carry gloves, mittens, dry socks and clothes as well as some water to stay hydrated."

Munson reminded the public that when they see the fire trucks, please don't crowd the trucks and give them as much space as possible.

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