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Blizzard Dumps More Than a Foot of Snow in Parts of Connecticut

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A nor'easter is making its way through Connecticut on Saturday and parts of the state have already gotten more than a foot of snow while New London has hit the criteria for a blizzard.

Some of the snowfall totals we're seeing include 21.5 inches in Groton, 19 inches in Norwich and 13 inches in Branford.

The snow has been accompanied by strong winds in parts of the state. Some areas could see gusts approaching 50 miles per hour.

With the strong winds, a lot of the state is seeing very limited visibility.

New London has officially hit the criteria for a blizzard, which includes three consecutive hours of heavy snow, wind and reduced visibility.

New London County was experiencing blizzard conditions by about 8 a.m.

A blizzard warning for New London County is in effect through 7 p.m. Saturday and winter storm warnings have been issued for the state.

In many locations in central and eastern Connecticut, we are seeing close to blizzard criteria.

Eastern Connecticut will likely see the highest snow totals, with as much as 18 inches of snow possible for some areas.

The higher totals could extend west to the New Haven area along the shoreline. The Hartford area may see lesser amounts, in the 8 to 12-inch range.

Western Connecticut will likely see the lowest totals with anywhere between 4 and 8 inches of snow.

NBC Connecticut First Alert Chief Meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan discusses the different types of snowflakes and how those impact winter storms.

The heaviest snow will likely fall through 4 p.m. Click here for when you can expect the snow to stop falling where you live.

Governor Ned Lamont is urging residents to stay off the roads during the storm. "They're slick, the visibility is bad. We had a roll over on I-95. Every time you have a crash like that, it's dangerous for you and it shuts down the road for a while," he said.

Governor Ned Lamont gives an update on how the state is prepared for Saturday's snow and urges drivers to stay off the roads if possible.

Blizzard Conditions

New London has hit the criteria for a blizzard on Saturday while several other locations in central and eastern Connecticut are close.

The National Weather Service says a blizzard means that the following conditions are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer:

  • Sustained wind or frequent gusts to 35 miles an hour or greater
  • Considerable falling and/or blowing snow (i.e., reducing visibility frequently to less than a quarter-mile.)

A blizzard warning is issued for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 miles per hour or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to a quarter-mile or less, according to the National Weather Service. The conditions are expected to prevail for a least three hours.

The snow will come down at an incredible rate on Saturday and some thundersnow is possible, as well. Snowfall rates in excess of two to three inches per hour are expected in some towns.

Tractor-Trailer Ban

Gov. Ned Lamont said no tractor-trailers will be allowed on any of the major roads as of 3 a.m. Saturday.

This was pushed up from 6 a.m. because the storm arrived slightly earlier than expected, according to the governor's office.

There were several tractor-trailer accidents on Connecticut highways just before the ban went into effect.

State police said multiple tractor-trailers have been cited for violating the ban.

The ban does have some exceptions including tractor-trailers carrying medical supplies.

The governor asked people to stay off the roads and said, depending on the severity of the storm, cars could be kept off the roads as well, but Lamont asked people to use common sense.

Governor Activates Emergency Operation Center

The Connecticut State Emergency Operations Center was activated at 6 a.m. on Saturday. Some staff is working from home and some are in-person.

The governor is advising Connecticut residents to anticipate sheltering in place through the evening hours.

“The forecast right now is projecting blizzard conditions for a significant portion of the state on Saturday, which is why I am urging everyone statewide to plan to shelter in place beginning Friday night and remaining there throughout the day on Saturday until the storm is over,” Lamont said.

“At times, snowfall rates will reach whiteout conditions, making visibility extremely limited, and when this happens, we cannot safely send plows to clear the roads for the safety of the drivers and anyone else in their vicinity. During the height of the storm, travel will be treacherous, and we are strongly urging everyone to remain off the roads to the greatest extent possible," he continued.

Public Transportation

Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said buses will not be operating and Amtrak suspended service as of the last train Friday night and won't operate on Saturday.

Metro-North is operating on a very limited schedule Saturday.

Metro-North is suspending service Saturday on the New Canaan, Danbury, Waterbury, and Wassaic branches. Trains will run hourly on the New Haven, Hudson and Harlem lines.

Flights Canceled

All flights in and out of Bradley International Airport were canceled early Saturday, according to the airport's website.

In all, seven arriving flights and 17 departing flights were canceled.

Road Clearing

The state Department of Transportation is urging people to stay off the roads Saturday if possible.

The DOT said it has more than 600 trucks on the roads and about 800 people working Saturday.

Commissioner Giulietti said the plows go around 35 miles per hour and have been struck, so he is urging people to stay off the roads.

The DOT is down about 100 people because of COVID-19 in addition to the 200 open positions they have not filled because of a lack of CDL drivers and they will be relying on more contactors.

Officials from the state Department of Transportation said they are not able to pre-treat the roads because the road temperature is too cold, but there is still a lot of treatment down from prior storms.

Giulietti said he is not worried unless the forecast changes and he’s asking people to monitor what's going on with the storm system before going out.

He said his crews can handle snow coming down at an inch an hour, but they would not be able to keep up if the snow comes down at three to five inches an hour.

New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart shared on social media that the Department of Public Works is down about a dozen drivers.

Crews from the state Department of Transportation and city and town crews are getting ready for snow.

Parking Bans

Some cities and towns have issued parking bans.

New Haven issued a citywide parking ban as of 10 p.m. Friday.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said there will be no parking downtown or on posted snow routes and no parking will be allowed on the odd side of residential streets.

See the list of parking bans as well as business closures here.

State Parks and Forests

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced that all state parks and forests will be closed because of Saturday's storm.

Areas will remain closed until snow removal is complete on Sunday, DEEP officials said.

They said to check their Twitter for the most up-to-date information.

CT Department of Health Activities

The Connecticut Department of Public Health said due to the weather, all state-supported COVID-19 testing sites and activities are canceled for Saturday, Jan. 29. Some of the sites are scheduled to open on Sunday, Jan. 30 with revised hours. Residents are encouraged to visit www.ct.gov/coronavirus and select the “No-Cost COVID-19 Testing Sites” button for the updated schedule.

All scheduled DPH mobile pop-up clinics are canceled for Saturday and Sunday. For the updated schedule of DPH mobile clinics, please visit www.ct.gov/coronavirus and select the “DPH Van Clinics” button.

It’s not a typo, and you’ve probably heard the term during a weather forecast. Thundersnow is a real—and rare—weather phenomenon that results in thunder, lightning and snow. Here’s how it happens.

Power Companies

Eversource said it is positioning equipment and line and tree crews across the state, including hundreds of additional out-of-state crews, to respond to any potential storm-related outages.

"We have hundreds of crews flying in throughout the day today – and more arriving tomorrow – from southern and western parts of the country, so we don’t have to wait for them to drive here. They’ll be geared up and ready to respond to this storm alongside our Eversource crews. We also remind customers that restorations may take longer as we ensure the safety of our employees who will be responding in challenging road conditions,” Eversource president of Connecticut Electric Operations Steve Sullivan said in a statement.

The state’s severe cold weather protocol remains in effect through noon on Wednesday, Feb. 2 and a system is set up for state agencies and municipalities to coordinate with United Way 2-1-1 and shelters to make sure that anyone in need can receive shelter, including transportation to shelters.

You can get the latest forecast anytime here.