8 PM UPDATE: 55% Delay, 45% Snow Day (details inside)

I am not quite ready to forecast widespread closures across Southwestern Connecticut yet because I do believe that some coastal districts, and maybe some eastern districts even slightly inland, such as Trumbull and maybe Shelton, will be able to open with just delayed openings.  As of right now, heavy rain looks to break out across the region still between 10 and 11 PM, with a turn to snow happening between midnight and 1 AM before accumulating snow winds down between 4 and 5 AM.  Clearing is expected by 7 AM.  Between 9 and 11 AM temperatures get above freezing in most coastal areas and even most inland areas and road conditions begin to improve from there.  That is why I am not able to forecast widespread cancellations at this time, even though I have reports that Weston and Ridgefield have announced closures.  Monroe and Westport both will be running on delayed openings tomorrow unless conditions force them to change, but at this time I do not think conditions will force them to change unless the banding tonight is worse than expected.  I see a few hours of heavy snow after it turns over from heavy rain, meaning the ground will be wet and the snow will have trouble quickly accumulating.  I still like a genera 2-5 additional inches, but the 4-5 inch amounts will be confined west of Route 7 most likely, with most areas likely seeing about 3 inches of snow in that time frame.  This is certainly manageable on a delayed schedule, especially when so many districts are scrambling to open tomorrow.  I am typically one to advocate the safe route and argue for school closings or delays whenever I see them as necessary, and I agree that delays will 100% be necessary, but I think it is too close a call on cancellations as roads could be in decent shape by late morning tomorrow if they are treated properly.  A lot does depend on this band that I am tracking, but I don’t have any evidence that it is much stronger than I expect or will last longer than I expect, which is why I doubt it will end up closing every school in the county.

However, I did raise the snow day percentages because some further inland districts, such as Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, etc. have much better odds of closing due to a longer duration of the snow banding tonight and a longer duration of it being snow.  Far inland towns are forecasted to close due to dangerous road conditions, especially as roads will be icy on their hills.  They may still delay if they have sufficient salt/sand, but odds are better there for closures.  By the coast they are able to be a little less conservative with their decisions as roads are slightly less hilly and surface temperatures have been above freezing, allowing a lot of ice to melt.  They drop below freezing tonight, but as I stated early will rise back up above freezing late tomorrow morning.  I expect we see some modified 2.5 or 3 hour delays so that school days can still count despite the conditions, and I think at this point that could end up being the best call.  For towns with salt/sand shortages, closures are the best decisions, but it is very hard to determine exactly which towns will see the biggest impacts from that, which is why snow days are not forecasted across the board.

In terms of real conditions, snow winds down by 4 or 5 AM and the sun comes out tomorrow morning and will be out throughout the day tomorrow as temperatures approach 40 degrees.  Attention turns to the next storm on Saturday, which the 18z GFS weather model shows bringing a couple of inches of snow to the region during the day.  Multiple other short range models appear to be in agreement, so I would expect at least some light snow on Saturday, but there is the potential for more.  The next blog update at 9 PM will have a little bit more on this, so make sure to check back then.  Stay tuned for the latest on this back end band and potential school impacts as well.

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