WiEvery storm has its own forecasting difficulties. Models jump around, conditions in the atmosphere change, etc. That has never been more apparent than with this storm, with it showing up at the last second, then setting up significant banding across Southwestern Connecticut, and finally deciding that the final round of snow most models have been forecasting sliding further east. Now, there is a chance that this is wrong and SWCT still gets some additional accumulating snow tonight. But for the snow day forecasts I don’t think the snow that will fall tonight will have a significant impact on whether schools open or close. I’ll detail zone-by-zone what this means now:
Coastal Plane (includes Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, Norwalk, Westport, Fairfield, Bridgeport, and Stratford): 65% Snow Day 35% Delay. Snow days are still forecasted in this area because of the large volume of snow and because Bridgeport has already closed. Due to the extreme cold there is a chance Bridgeport closed for that combined with the volume of snow. Also, Bridgeport is not equipped to deal with this volume of snow as well as some of the suburbs, so that likely played into the decision as well. Regardless, we have one of these districts closed with others to close tomorrow I believe. However, if we don’t get any more accumulating snow tonight, then I believe there could be sufficient time to prepare roads for a delayed opening tomorrow, hence the slightly higher chance. Due to black ice, gusty winds, freezing temperatures, and 8-12 inches of snow on the ground I don’t believe any schools will open on time but there is a chance that they could delay.
One-Removed Inland (includes New Canaan, Wilton, Weston, Easton, Trumbull, and Shelton): 55% Snow Day 45% Delay This area is similar to the coast in terms of accumulations, though slightly less, but with colder temperatures and hilly roads I still think snow days will be slightly more common than delays. At the same time, it is almost as likely now that schools delay here due to very little if any additional snowfall accumulations tonight. Some areas did see up to 10-11 inches, and that is a lot of snow to manage. I think New Canaan in particular got the most, though Weston and Wilton saw a lot, and I think they have decent chances at closing. Any one of these given towns stands a good chance of only delaying if Public Works Departments can clear the roads, so I would not be surprised to see all or most delayed instead of closed. However, I could also see almost all of them close without being surprised because this was a lot of snow and roads will be covered in ice.
Removed from I-84 (includes Ridgefield, Redding, and Monroe): 35% Snow Day 50% Delay. I lower the snow day number while raising the delay number because I believe that without additional significant accumulations tonight the snowfall was just light enough tonight to be cleared in time to open schools on delayed openings in these towns. I do not expect them to open on time due to the cold and ice that is left behind the storm, but I think it is now more likely that they delay than close. There remains a chance they close if certain areas of the towns, likely further south, were hard enough hit by snow that the roads will not be cleared properly, but I think it is slightly more likely that these districts delay than close. The only scenario that would surprise me would be if these towns opened on time, because I think the cold and ice alone would be enough to delay them. So expect to sleep in here, but I’d also say it’s fair to expect school.
Along I-84 (includes Newtown, Bethel, and Danbury): 55% Delay, 25% Snow Day. With no real additional snow expected, I think it is likely that these school districts open. In fact, the mayor of Danbury tweeted that he thinks roads will be cleared by tomorrow morning, likely indicating that he expects to open schools. This is no guarantee, and there is still a chance of closures if crews cannot cover all the roads in time, but Danbury’s mayor again tweeted recently that he expects schools to be open. Areas only got 3-4 inches so this should not be surprising. Again, because of black ice and frigid temperatures I think it is likely that they do end up delaying, but there is also a very real chance here that schools open on time. I do not think that the snow that fell this evening will have that significant a bearing on the decision because here it all comes down to the black ice and cold temperatures. So I’d lean towards a delay but I’d definitely expect school. If I had to choose one of these districts to close I would pick Newtown because it was furthest east and got the most snow, but I think even there a delay is most likely.
North of I-84 (includes Brookfield, New Fairfield, and Sherman): 45% Delay 10% Snow Day. I don’t really see a scenario in which schools here close because they got so little snow. Still, I think the snow that did fall and melt on treated roadways could pose black ice issues for tomorrow morning, and with those wind chills as cold as -15 degrees I think delays are a very real possibility. So school is basically a definite here, but I think delays are possible, though far from a guarantee. Sadly, as I said I don’t forecast for this region very much so I do not know much about how decisions are made, but my best guess would be some delays with no closures.
So that’s where we stand in terms of school impacts. The RAP and HRRR short range weather models now show no significant accumulations this evening while other models show only maybe an inch, and I do not expect this will hinder road crews. The storm has really wound down and now the focus turns to the frigid air that will be around tomorrow along with the gusty winds and the next storm threats. Some light snow is possible Saturday afternoon and evening but I think the next threat for real accumulating snow will come Monday with a similar setup to the one we just had, except with a weaker storm. Thank you for bearing with me through this difficult storm to forecast, and we will see what the impacts will be tomorrow morning as schools announce whether they are opening, closing, or delaying. I’ll be back at 5 AM tomorrow to report on any delays and closures reported and to report on any other storms on the horizon!