Things are beginning to ramp up. We have heavy snow across the region falling at around an inch per hour, and by 8:30 or 9 PM that first inch of snow will have fallen across SW CT. I don’t expect to see snowfall rates as heavy throughout most of the night, but in some bands they will be heavy. However, what most people are curious about is how this impacts schools and businesses tomorrow, which I am going to try and address here. The earlier snowfall actually didn’t do much to change the snow day/delay forecasts for both inland communities and the coast, but rather the latest RAP with very cold surface temperatures did a lot for that. It showed a fairly stead ENE wind and yet surface temperatures down to I-95 staying below freezing into the early morning hours before slowly warming up. This is something no model has shown for days, and even though the RAP was awful with the precipitation timing, it does have a warm bias, making me believe it may be on to something being so cold at the surface.
The warm tongue is currently on track at 800mb, and is gradually beginning to become more defined across the area. As it becomes more and more defined, it may become harder for snow to stick on pavement, even with surface temperatures below freezing. Once the snow turns over to sleet, though, it will be very easy for the sleet to stick on roads and make them even icier. The timing looks the same, with the first sleet mixing in to hold down accumulations around 11 PM, and a full turnover to sleet occurring between 12 PM and 1 AM, with a mix of freezing rain and rain likely after that. The freezing rain will generally be inland, with the rain at the coast. It is the length of that freezing rain that will determine whether schools open on time or not tomorrow across SW CT, and the amount of snow that falls now won’t make much of a difference because it will be quite easy to clean up come morning. Ice, however, is a much different story, and though the ice threat seemed to decrease throughout the past 36 hours, the RAP just brought it back. This has led me to increase totals, now giving a 65% of some impact for inland SW CT communities, and a 35% chance of a delay at the coast. I don’t see any scenarios by which inland communities are not completely above freezing by 7 or 8 AM, so as of right now no chance of a snow day is included at the coast, but should a few scattered communities remain below freezing through the day or get hit especially hard with more than a quarter of an inch of ice, then closures are possible.
One final thing I am monitoring is a quicker movement of the precipitation as well, and this is something most models seem to be catching up on. By 8 AM, all precipitation now looks to move out of the region, another reason why school closures are unlikely, but delays possible. Precipitation will continue into the early morning hours per the latest RAP, but it will then move on out before getting later in the morning. This should allow for a fairly easy cleanup from the storm during the day, though then by 10 AM a second batch of precipitation moves through associated with the original cold front trailing the forming secondary low pressure system. By this point, all of SW CT should be above freezing, so that second batch of precipitation should be all rain, and most threats will be gone thus by 9 or 10 AM. Overall, as of right now I am seeing increasing evidence that a delay is going to be the correct call for most of SW CT, with the coast now looking to be a harder call because of surface temperatures, even though originally it looked like inland would be a harder call. Make sure to keep it here for the latest on the storm, and the next update will come between 9 and 9:30 PM, with constant updates on Twitter as well.