10 PM UPDATE: 55% Snow Day (inland) 30% Snow Day (coast)

Snow days are now forecasted for a majority of districts across inland Southwestern Connecticut, though that does not mean that every inland district will close.  Coastal areas I still do not believe will need to close.  Let’s break down why.

First, short range guidance and medium range guidance has converged onto the most likely end scenario.  Anywhere from 2 inches of snow (most likely in the Greenwich area) to around 5 inches of snow (most likely in the Newtown on northeast area) remains on the table.  The RAP and HRRR have upped precipitation amount, while the NAM and some other guidance has dropped off the high-end totals to end up with a reasonable 2-5 inches across the entire region, exactly what the going forecast has been.  The further east you go, the more likely it is to get heavy at times.  But even though there will be a period of heavy snow even at the coast, I find it very likely that districts along the coast will be able to open.  Yes, a few districts along the coast may close, and yes, a few inland may open, but generally I expect most inland districts to need to close due to snow, and most coastal ones to be able to open.

Generally, the storm does not start to ramp up until between 8 and 9 AM.  Most guidance does not even have an inch of snow on the ground by 9 or 10 AM, and surface temperatures at that point are hovering near freezing, meaning that with any salt/sand road conditions will be fine to get students to school.  Even inland it is not the morning commute that I am worried about any more.  The reason cancellations are forecasted inland and not the coast is because it still looks like the coast will turn to a rain/snow mix by the end of the storm that inland areas will likely not get.  Inland areas will see higher accumulations that will be harder to manage, especially as their roads can become more dangerous with snow due to large hills.  Snow inland could continue until 2 PM and accumulate up to 5 inches in areas, with areas further east getting more snow than those further west.  Some may try and tough it out, but I think inland conditions will persist to warrant school closures.

At the coast, we see light snow through 9 or 10 AM, and then a heavy burst of snow from 10 AM to noon.  By noon we begin to see a little rain mix in, and by 1 PM any precipitation left will likely be mainly rain before the storm pulls on out over the next hour.  Capping accumulations at a slushy 2-3 inches at the coast likely means that realistically schools could open and by 2 or 3 PM roads should generally be safe enough to get students home from school.  This is New England and a few inches of snow, especially wet snow, with temperatures above freezing should be manageable.  Some districts may play it safe and close along the coast, and that is not necessarily the wrong decision, I am just unsure if it truly will be necessary, as it is likely that travel to and from schools will be decent tomorrow.

There is one thing I want to emphasize, especially if any superintendents are still reading this.  There is no scenario in which a delayed opening or an Early Dismissal will benefit students.  Districts have a tendency to see heavy snow, freak out, and dismiss students from school early.  Nothing could be more dangerous in a storm like this when the heaviest snow may be falling between 11 AM and noon.  If you open schools, stick it out, and conditions are guaranteed to be safer by 2 or 3 PM based off of every single weather model and prediction.  The reason there is no early dismissal chance is because there is no scenario in which it is the right call, and I dearly hope no districts choose to make that decision.

So that’s what I’m looking at now.  There looks to be just enough snow to force some inland districts to close, but I do not think coastal areas will need to close in the end.  As long as they stick out the storm, travel should be safe both to and from school, and even inland there is a chance that is the case, though that chance is significantly smaller than at the coast.  Most precipitation should end between 2 and 3 PM, an rain should mix in across at least the coastal plane between noon and 1 PM.  A burst of heavy snow is likely and intense snowfall rates may be recorded, but that is also expected and how we will reach 2-5 inches total.  Again, 2-3 inches at the coast with up to 5 inches further inland, and the lowest amounts near Greenwich with the highest amounts near Newtown.  That is what I am looking at, and I’ll have a final update at 11:30 with the latest information, so check back then.

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