A decent amount to cover, but confidence continues to grow that schools will need to close just because of the volume of snow many areas are receiving across Southwestern Connecticut. This band is still sitting across the region and the National Weather Service has issued a Special Weather Statement advising us that it could be around until 10 PM. Radar returns show that it will not be going anywhere anytime fast, and due to the high ratios we are seeing the snow continues to fall in many places at rates over an inch per hour. This is why I am seeing reports already of anywhere from 6-8 or 9 inches of snow across Southwestern Connecticut, especially in coastal areas. With another 5-6 hours of snow to go, and another couple hours of moderate to heavy snow within that, I just do not see how most roads will be cleared in time for schools to be open tomorrow. I have an unofficial report that New Haven Public Schools have already closed, which would not be surprising, and that would just further confirm that school districts across Southwestern Connecticut will follow suit and close.
Some storms over perform, some storms under perform, and some storms perform as expected. This storm thus far has generally performed as expected with regards to track, intensity, etc. I knew that a band would set up, and most guidance had it setting up over Long Island. Instead, it shifted a good 30 or so miles north and decided to wallop Southwestern Connecticut instead. In almost every blog post I made I said there was a 20% chance I would need to raise forecasted amounts at the last minute because of this mesoscale banding and I knew it was coming. Well, that 20% has turned into 100% as I had to raise amounts specifically because of what the mesoscale banding has brought, and as a result it is much more likely that schools will have to close tomorrow (and I have now confirmed that New Haven Public Schools have closed). And this band is sticking around and not going anywhere. Along with that, short range guidance continues to point towards the idea that light snow will continue until around 4 or 5 AM now, and though snow will only fall at around a quarter to a third of an inch per hour through that time, 6+ hours of that will only add more snow onto the already impressive amounts that we have amassed. It will also make it more difficult to clear roads and will keep them slick into the morning, increasing chances that roads will have to close.
As I mentioned in the title, though, certain parts of Southwestern Connecticut that are further inland than I usually focus on are not inside of this band. Towns like New Milford, Sherman, New Fairfield, etc. are only seeing anywhere from 1-3 inches of snow and will likely only get another few inches of snow. Anyone north of Interstate 84 will likely only need to have a delayed opening tomorrow as snowfall rates will be significantly lower there. In fact, they likely only have a few more hours of light/moderate snow before it winds down there. The hardest call is for those towns, like Danbury and Bethel, along I-84, as they also have not had as much snow as other towns farther south, but they also close easier due to their hilly terrain. Any town bordering I-84 I only see getting 5, maybe 6 inches, so I give them a 50-50 chance to close or stay open. Any town that is entirely south of I-84 or south of Danbury/Bethel I expect has a good chance of closing because they were in the heaviest band of snow that moved through today.
Another quick glance at the radar as I write this post shows that the heaviest banding is actually beginning to pivot out of Southwestern Connecticut. This is not very surprising, as now areas from Bridgeport into New Haven will get to feel the full force of the 1-2 inch snowfall rates that we were getting in the band. This does not mean that the storm is over for SWCT, as the low pressure center is not actually fully developed. We will get a few hours of precipitation around the band, with snowfall rates of around half an inch per hour. That will last probably until 11 or midnight, so we can expect another inch or two inches from that. Then, the latest RAP shows that we get scraped by the pivoted precipitation shield as the low pressure center to our south rapidly intensifies, so we will get light snow from midnight until 3-5 AM. This could add another inch or two to our totals. So basically, take how much snow you have thus far and throw on an additional 2-4 inches on top of that. Given radar and short range model trends that seems like the most accurate estimate for the region, and I believe that that will put most parts of SWCT firmly inside my current forecast.
With final accumulations becoming clearer, the banding moving out, schools beginning to report closings, and the end time of the storm beginning to become clearer, I think I have covered everything I wanted to in this 8 PM update. I will have another update around 9:30, and then as always the final update will come around 11 PM this evening before I am up at 5 AM. Before I sign off this post I want to extend the “localized” amounts to 14 inches because I would not be surprised to see a lollipop of 14 inches of snow along the Southwestern Connecticut coastline. A storm that was expected to go out to sea a mere 60 hours ago is now blanketing the coastline in over a foot of snow in places, with only some of the least accurate weather models calling it inside of 48 hours and none really predicting it outside of 60 hours. This just goes to show how unpredictable and wild the world of weather can be, and how you can truly never know what is going to come next. Still, I’m going to do my best to keep you ahead of the storm and let you know how this storm impacts your life. Travel will get better tomorrow morning and by noon I expect most roads will be safe again, too late for schools but hopefully early enough for many of you to resume your lives quickly enough. I’ll be back in a little bit with more so stay tuned.