Contact: David Bednarz
| February 3, 2011
The Honorable Barack Obama
The President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Obama:
As I am certain you already know, winter weather has pummeled Connecticut since the day after Christmas. I write, first, to alert you that I am preparing a request for federal assistance to address the impacts of the record snowstorm on January 11-12. I also want to make clear that this aid is intended to begin to help meet the mounting costs associated with the historic winter weather system that has already stretched both state and local resources to and beyond the breaking point, with at least two months of winter weather still to follow. As a result, I will also request additional federal aid commensurate with the severity of damages as the situation continues to unfold.
Since December 26, 2010, the State of Connecticut has received record snowfall amounts in excess of 50 inches as a result of five major winter storms and several smaller storms. The State Emergency Operations Center has been activated for six storms in five weeks, including the two-day storm that covered much of the nation on February 1-2 - a storm that added as much as 10 inches of snow, along with about 1.5 inches of sleet and freezing rain, to a snowpack of 30 inches or more around Connecticut.
The weight of this new snow and liquid precipitation led to the collapse of numerous buildings around the state. Among the buildings to fail were a three-story commercial building on Main Street in Middletown and a former bowling alley in Waterbury. More than 130 barns and other farm buildings (including many greenhouses) have also collapsed, including a poultry facility where 85,000 egg-laying hens were killed in a single incident. Other livestock losses include dairy cows, horses and sheep.
In large part this is because in January the state broke its all-time record for snowfall in a single month. The previous record for monthly snowfall, 45.3 inches, was set in 1945 at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks. The snowfall amount for January 2011 was 57 inches, exceeding the previous record by nearly a foot. As of January 31, all locations in the state had exceeded their annual snowfall totals by as much as 200 percent. These records go back 105 years.
Moreover, little, if any, melting has taken place. Temperature records from Bradley International Airport show an average temperature of only 24 degrees Fahrenheit for the past 31 days. Indeed, during a four-day period beginning January 21st, we activated a severe cold sheltering system to protect the homeless and other vulnerable people when overnight temperatures dipped as low as 15 degrees below zero (with wind chills as low as 25 below zero).
The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement on January 30 indicating that the deepest snow depth values in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are found in Connecticut, with a snow water equivalent on roofs of 3 to 5 inches, resulting in a "tremendous amount of weight per square foot." The Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, in collaboration with other state and local agencies, has worked to lessen the number of collapses, but the damages continue to mount, especially as additional snow and liquid precipitation accumulate.
State and local government agencies throughout the state continue to work to rectify the issues caused by the numerous storms. Public Works and Transportation Departments are concentrating on removing the extremely high snow piles that have caused numerous accidents across the state. Municipalities and state agencies are finding it harder and harder to store the snow safely. State and local snow removal budgets are exhausted, with months of winter remaining.
Preliminary cost estimates for snow assistance in a 48-hour period for just one of these storms, which occurred on January 11-12, exceed $18 million. February and March in Connecticut are historically months with high potential for large winter storms.
I wanted to apprise you of the ongoing and significant challenges we are facing. Connecticut will continue to work through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other channels as necessary to address these challenges. I very much appreciate your attention and concern.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy