Snow day chances have inched up yet again based on recent modeling data extending the ending of the snow until as late as 6 AM tomorrow. Latest radar imagery also shows this being a real possibility, as the rain right/thunder/sleet right now is just the beginning of a long night of forecast. I’m going to briefly run through conditions here, but this will be a brief update so that I can get it out on time.
Currently, Southwest Connecticut is having bands of very strong convection swing through the area, though they are beginning to die down. By 11 PM or so, western portions of Fairfield County will be seeing only light rain/sleet if anything at all, as we enter into a lull. This dry slot will take over the entire county most likely by around 11:30, and then begin to fill in over the next hour and a half or so. By 1 AM, I expect snow to begin swinging back into the region, and we could see snowfall rates of 1-2 inches per hour (don’t see any rates stronger than 2 inches per hour). I think the forecast of 2-4 inches at the coast and 4-6 inches of additional snow inland will hold, though to get amounts more than 4 or 5 inches you may have to go pretty far inland where the changeover is occurring with this initial round of precipitation. The snow will then continue until between 5 and 6 AM, and taking an average of an inch per hour through this time I see widespread 4 inch amounts inland, and widespread 3 inch amounts closer to the coast. Is this enough to close schools? After close to a foot of snow today and then extreme conditions tonight, along with extremely icy conditions due to a freeze tonight, I think it is likely. At this time, I am still not ready to forecast widespread closures at the coast because the exact conditions in this very narrow band of snow tonight will determine exactly what should happen, but I think closures are likely even at the coast, except for maybe a few districts which do not close as often (such as Westport and Fairfield).
Both the duration and the accumulations in this band are crucial, and each hourly run of the short range models vary wildly because of how narrow and defined this band of moderate to heavy snow will be. This is why monitoring on radar is so important, and why it is impossible to tell exactly how bad conditions will be by tomorrow morning. Again, delays are a guarantee as roads will be in very poor condition, but districts are doing everything they can to open tomorrow, and that is why I do not believe every district in the county will be closed tomorrow. Odds are yours will close if it has not already, but there are a couple that will likely run on modified 2.5-3 hour delays or be able to clear roads in time for 2 hour delays. I’ll be up at 5 AM to report on all of this, so make sure to follow along on Twitter to see exactly which districts are closing versus sticking with their original delay calls. Any district that has not yet made an announcement is deciding whether to delay or close, no district is considering opening on time tomorrow.
I will continue monitoring this band and may end up forecasting a snow day in the final update at 11:30 PM, so make sure to check back in for that in a little under an hour. I will also continue Tweeting the latest weather information through then and following the storm on radar, short range models, and with surface observations. There is a long way to go with multiple more hours of impacts in this wild storm, and I will continue to do my best to keep you at least one step ahead. Stay tuned.