I’ll start by saying the same thing again: If you are reading this and are in charge or have a say in schools opening or closing tomorrow, do not allow an Early Dismissal. If you choose to open schools, stick with your decision and keep them open throughout the day. Road conditions will be much better at 2 PM or 3 PM than they will at 11 AM or 12 PM. There may be pressure to close schools early when you see a radar filled with snow, but it is just not worth it.
With that out of the way, let’s break down this forecast here. Percent chances were raised at the coast because of a slightly earlier forecast time, but I am not going to forecast widespread snow days at the coast. This is because I do thing road conditions could improve just enough in a few districts that they need not close. With only widespread 2-4 inch amounts expected, many districts should be able to handle this storm. For the record, I have only taken the 50% route once before in my history of forecasting, and that time I believe every district or every district but one in Southwestern Connecticut closed. So I am confident that the majority of districts will close, especially at the coast, but not yet confidence enough to push that percent above 50%. Again, if your district has a history of closing in marginal closings, expect a closing. If they do not and are more strict, like Westport or Greenwich or Darien, they may very well still end up closing, but it is a lot less of a guarantee with a storm like this. The only reason the Early Dismissal percents are present is that some districts may choose to open, look outside, see the snow, and feel pressure to get kids home ASAP. As I have said before, this is the absolute worst call, and if an Early Dismissal is called it is advised for students to wait out the storm in the school and then be picked up as opposed to leave school in the worst of the storm.
So to break this down, look for snow to break out between 7 AM and 8 AM in northern Fairfield County, and that will creep down and then start between 8 AM and 9 AM further south in the rest of Fairfield County. The heaviest snow will then fall between 9 AM and 11 AM, with moderate snow winding down by noon or 1 PM. Light snow or snow showers will continue between 1 PM and maybe 3 or 4 PM, but all accumulations will likely end by 2 PM and definitely by 3 PM. This is why some school districts could get away with closing, as snow will be ending or will have ended when school lets out, and if roads are properly plowed and treated students could be able to get safely home. I have always been one to say that it is right to err on safety, but history has shown that this is not always the case, and so the forecast I make is based off of history here.
This is what I’m seeing at this time, and I feel like this is the best forecast for schools that I can make. I am still confident with the forecast of widespread 2-4 inch amounts with maybe up to 5 inches amounts. The RGEM with only an inch to an inch and a half of snow is likely wrong, and the GFS with widespread snow amounts of 4-5 inches is also likely wrong. A compromise in between like I have I continue to believe in, and for many districts it could be enough to close schools, but I can bet there will be a few districts to tough it out and open up. Those will likely be along the coast. Make sure to check back in the morning for the latest on this storm, and tweets will continue with live updates when possible.