Nor’easter to bring 12-plus inches of snow to much of Connecticut; winter storm warning in state’s southern counties

Michael Hamad, Hartford Courant
·4 min read

The first major nor’easter of 2021 is rapidly bearing down on the East Coast, with high snowfall totals, severe wind gusts and power outages likely across much of Connecticut.

The National Weather Service in New York issued a winter storm warning for Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex and New London counties starting at midnight Sunday and continuing through 6 a.m. Tuesday, with heavy snow expected to accumulated anywhere from 7-16 inches and winds gusting as high as 50 mph.

Travel is expected to be very difficult to impossible, with hazardous conditions likely impacting morning and evening commutes. Gusting winds could bring down tree branches. Blizzard-like conditions are possible, especially near the coast.

The snow is expected to start on Monday between 5-7 a.m., said Frank Nocera, senior forecaster at the National Weather Service in Norton, Massachusetts, and will become heavy by 8-9 a.m., with snowfall expected to accumulate at roughly an inch every hour.

“It is going to be a wet snow, so we always recommend when power outages are a threat, especially the day and age we live in our electronics, people should probably go to bed charging their electronic devices tonight,” Nocera said Sunday.

Parts of central and northeastern Connecticut — including Hartford, Tolland and Windham counties — that were under a winter storm watch on Sunday were expected to see between 8-15 inches of snow, which may turn to rain Monday night then back to snow on Tuesday, said Gary Lessor, chief meteorologist at the weather center at Western Connecticut State University.

Lessor said that some portions of western Connecticut could see up to 24 inches of snow. “The only question now is are we going to start to see some of the mixing with sleet getting into central Connecticut,” he said. “That’s why central Connecticut I’m not thinking will be as high as western Connecticut.”

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said on Twitter Sunday that a parking ban would be implemented from noon Monday through 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick said the state’s fleet of plows and snow removal trucks — along with spare equipment, parts, salt, liquid magnesium chloride and other resources — is prepared and ready to go at roughly 50 satellite facilities around the state.

“We’re already prepared,” Nursick said. “We pride ourselves on being in a constant state of readiness for winter weather, so regardless of the time of day or the day of the week, we’re always in a state of readiness. There’s no last minute scrambling or anything of that nature that has to take place.”

Eversource Energy said Sunday that line and tree crews are positioned around the state to respond to damage or outages caused by the storm. Out-of-state crews are also being brought in to help with restoring power. Customer care representatives will be monitoring outage calls.

Craig Hallstrom, president of regional electric operations at Eversource, said the utility company has been “watching the storm for days and will adjust our plan accordingly.”

“The forecasts call for large amounts of snow and high winds, which may make travel conditions challenging for the crews,” he said. “We’re checking our equipment and supplies and staging the crews at our work centers across the state to ensure we’re ready to repair any damage we may see from this storm. We also remind customers that restorations may take longer as we ensure the safety of our employees and customers while continuing to work under the challenging conditions related to the pandemic.”

Connecticut residents should steer clear of downed wires and report them to 911. Report power outages online at eversource.com or by calling 800-286-2000. There’s also a text messaging feature that allows customers to send and receive updates via text.

Temperatures on Monday will be in the 20s inland and 30-35 along the coast around Groton, Lessor said. As warming temperatures arrive in Connecticut along with the storm, wet, heavy snow that sticks at first won’t likely exceed normal snow-rain ratios of about 10:1.

Travel may become difficult beginning around 8 a.m. Because of the cold temperatures, snow is expected to stick immediately. “Roads will become snow-covered very quickly,” Nocera said. “[Monday] is going to be a good day for telework and distant learning.”

Driving is not recommended by noon on Monday. “People should do what they got to do by noon, if they have to go out at all, and then just hunker down until Tuesday,” Lessor said.

There will be lingering snow Tuesday but nowhere near Monday’s intensity. “It will be more of a nuisance,” Lessor said. “You clean the driveway, and you got a couple hours later, and there’s another half-inch or inch.”

Many towns around the state issued parking bans on Sunday, and widespread school closures were expected. In Bridgeport, Mayor Joe Ganim issued a snow emergency starting at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Michael Hamad can be reached at mhamad@courant.com.