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Connecticut forecast: What you can expect and when from Tuesday’s winter storm

Connecticut forecast: What you can expect and when from Tuesday’s winter storm
Pedestrians walk across a snow-covered Founders Bridge Tuesday morning.

Although a nice sunrise greeted many commuters Tuesday morning, forecasters say don’t be fooled. A wintry mix of snow, sleet, ice and rain is on its way and was expected to begin falling across much of the state by noon.

Many school districts took a proactive stance and cancelled classes for the day as early as Monday night and many more on Tuesday morning even though no precipitation was expected to start falling until late morning. A few districts, especially those in eastern Connecticut like Marlborough took a chance and planned to dismiss early. The snow isn’t expected to fall in the northeastern part of the state until early afternoon.

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Forecasters said up to a half foot of snow could fall in spots, especially the northwest hills. The snow is expected to change to sleet, freezing rain and rain especially along the shoreline by late afternoon and evening. Many towns and cities have parking bans in advance of the storm.

A winter weather advisory is in effect from 11 a.m. Tuesday to 7 a.m. Wednesday. Here’s what you can expect over the course of the day into the evening:

10:30 to 11 a.m.

In the Hartford area, snow will begin falling in the late morning, according to Gary Lessor, chief meteorologist at Western Connecticut State University’s Weather Center. Snow will work its way from southeast to northeast Connecticut over the course of the late morning and early afternoon.

An East Hartford public works plow truck and car collided along Main Street Tuesday morning.
An East Hartford public works plow truck and car collided along Main Street Tuesday morning.

12 p.m. and later

Moderate to heavy snow — up to an inch an hour — will fall during the afternoon. Central and eastern Connecticut, including Hartford, is expected to get 3 or 4 inches of snow, while the western part of the state will get 3 to 6 inches, Lessor said.

With temperatures in the 20s, the snow is expected to accumulate fast on roads, the National Weather Service said. A change to sleet and freezing rain is expected by 3 p.m.-5 p.m. across the interior. Lessor said the timing of the switch over to sleet and freezing rain is expected before and during the evening commute so drivers should be aware.

Evening

Lessor said it’s the freezing rain that will fall later in the day that will be a problem. Traffic should be less with Tuesday being a state holiday.

“There wasn’t much of a morning commute,” Lessor said. “So hopefully people are staying home and off the roads for the evening commute. Just drive slow and keep the windows clear. The good thing is this isn’t a very big storm with damaging winds and extremely cold temperatures.”

State Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick said crews will ramping up and mobilizing from late morning into the evening with 634 state trucks and 200 private contractors on standby. He said with actively dynamic weather, crews will have to adjust to each geographical location and deal with a “full mixed bag.”

“There have been basically nuisance weather events this winter,” he said. “We are used to dealing with a lot worse. But even lower level weather events shouldn’t be taken for granted. Again, the brunt of it is not good timing during the evening commute.

“There will still be plenty of people on the road and high traffic mixing with slippery conditions is never a good combo. Anytime you start talking about ice, you are talking about real safety issues. We will be applying material to keep up with it,” Nursick added.

Lessor said the shoreline should be all rain by 8 p.m. with the freezing rain line marching slowly north with Hartford becoming a mix of freezing rain and rain during the early morning hours. There won’t be a flash freeze with this storm with temperatures remaining in the upper 30s and 40s as it passes by.

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The precipitation will end early Wednesday morning, with a possible interlude of sunshine Wednesday afternoon and temperatures warming to the low to mid-40s, ushering in milder weather through Saturday.

Christine Dempsey can be reached at cdempsey@courant.com.

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