EAST GREENWICH–When it comes to snow storms in Rhode Island, the only forecasts and predictions that are usually spot on are related to long lines at the grocery store and many people buying milk and bread. When it comes to the weather it’s usually a fluid situation and the forecast changes hour by hour.
That was the case again for the latest storm that made its way to the Ocean State on Monday into Tuesday.
“The forecasters got it wrong badly,” East Greenwich Public Works Director Joseph Duarte said on Tuesday.
One of the biggest factors that goes into planning for storms is the amount of snow anticipated and the timing of the storm. According to Duarte, the biggest issue the town faced with the storm was the timing of it.
“The storm didn’t pan out the way we anticipated but we dealt with it like any other decent size storm,” Duarte said.
Duarte explained that when they plan for storms they need to do so the night before or early in the morning, meaning that when the forecast changes throughout the storm, it becomes very difficult. He went on to say that the heavy snow was expected in the early afternoon, but didn’t arrive until later on.
Despite the struggles of the changing forecast Duarte said his team dealt with it like any other storm.
Aside from the snow, the DPW was faced with strong winds. Duarte noted that because of the winds, they tasked with addressing downed branches and trees, which they dealt with right away. In addition they were also faced with freezing rain mixed with the snow making it difficult at times.
By the end of the storm East Greenwich, ended up with about seven to eight inches of snow depending on the location in town. Duarte said that as of 12 p.m. on Tuesday the snow was cleaned up and their only worry was about the temperatures dropping leading to roads freezing. He added that they would be prepared for that as well making sure they had crews ready with salt and sand to put down if needed.
For East Greenwich Public Schools, the district decided to pull the plug on in-person learning for Monday and Tuesday due to the storm. Instead they held distance learning days.
Aside from school closures and the usual city services like trash collection being delayed a day this week, the storm also caused a new logistical dilemma across the Ocean State. With COVID-19 vaccines continuing to be distributed and testing taking place now more than ever, cities and towns scrambled with informing those who were supposed to get vaccinated and tested that they would be postponed due to the weather.
For East Greenwich, the closure of the vaccination sites meant two days worth of vaccinations being postponed.
“All vaccination clinics on Monday and Tuesday around the state have been canceled. We are in the process of rescheduling all impacted appointments with the RIDOH officials,” the town’s Facebook page stated. “The full-day clinic planned for Wednesday, Feb. 3 will be held as is presently scheduled. Additional all-day clinics are being organized on Feb. 8, 9 and 10 including both first dose and second dose clinics.”
As the snow was starting to fall on Monday the East Greenwich Fire Department also found themselves with their hands full as they battled a structure fire at L&S Auto on Post Road. According to the department’s Facebook page, when crews arrived they found smoke coming from the roof of the one story building and out of the bay.
The fire department reported that there were no injuries from the fire.