11 PM UPDATE: All Schools Closed

All schools across Fairfield County have close in advance of this storm, and I would be amazed if any school in Connecticut opened at all tomorrow due to the expected severity of the incoming storm.

Recent short range models continue to support the going forecast.  The last run of the RAP came in warmer again and supports the going forecast of mixing at the coast around 1 PM and then all rain at the immediate coast by 2 PM or so.  Over the next hour snow inland would turn to sleet and then rain as well.  The main threat that I am addressing in this update is that of freezing rain.  The cold air at the surface is winning battles currently, and I am concerned that that will continue into the day tomorrow.  Now, the immediate coast, due to generally easterly winds, will not stay below freezing.  But areas north of the Merritt could be below freezing for a period of time while rain is falling, and areas north if Interstate 84 could actually be below freezing at the surface for almost the entire storm.  I don’t expect large ice accumulations, but up to a tenth of an inch of ice remains a very real possibility, and I am officially bringing that into the forecast now for anywhere north of the Merritt Parkway.  The freezing rain is most likely at two main points, either when the snow/sleet turns to rain at first, or before the rain turns back to snow on the back end.  I don’t expect heavy freezing rain to be an issue, and if it is temperatures are right at the freezing mark and marginal enough that it actually is less likely to freeze if it is heavy, but light accumulations are a very real possibility as we enter the dry slot and upper levels of the atmosphere warm up quicker than the cold surface.

That’s the main forecast difference that I am seeing now, as multiple very short range models seem to be highlighting that the surface is colder than forecasted at this time.  Aloft, temperatures are slightly colder too, but I don’t think it is very significant, and it could also just mean that they are likely to warm faster.  Flurries could break out across the area as soon as 1 AM it looks like, but I still don’t see steady snow entering into the area around 2 AM or 3 AM, and then by 5 or 6 it will start getting heavier, with the peak between 9 AM and 1 PM.  I am still watching the potential for snowfall rates of 2 or more inches per hour at the height of the initial band late tomorrow morning/early afternoon before sleet/rain mix in.  Then we see everyone around 2 or 3 go over to that freezing rain/rain mix unless there are huge differences coming out from what I am seeing in the next few hours.  Freezing rain becomes a bigger threat again by 8 or 9 PM, with snow mixing back in by 11 PM or midnight and getting locally heavy for a few hours before pulling back out.  Total accumulations remain 6-12 inches at the coast and 8-14 inches because of the mix time being on schedule, but there remains a possibility that some areas could locally exceed that.  This will be my final focus at the final update of the day at midnight, so make sure to check back then.

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