This is no trick and for many it is probably not going to be a treat.
A rare October winter storm for the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states is expected Saturday. Heavy wet snow, combined with nearly fully-leafed trees could lead to extensive downed trees and power outages. Winter storm watches and warnings have been issued from the border regions of West Virginia and Virginia northeastward through the mid-Atlantic region and into southern Connecticut.
WFSB.com is calling for as much as 10 inches of snow in the northwest hills to 2-5 inches in the southeastern part of the state. Middlesex County and much of the rest of the state could get 6-plus inches, according to WFSB. Snow could be heavy at times and also mix with sleet and rain in some places. Additionally, winds are expected to be strong, with gusts possibly up to 45 mph.
Temperatures are expected to be above freezing during the day in our area with no significant snowfall until the evening hours. A mix of rain and snow will develop Saturday morning and continue through the day. Precipitation should change to all snow by Saturday evening and could become moderate to locally heavy. Some uncertainty remains as to the exact track of the storm which will determine where the heaviest snow falls.
A winter storm warning was issued for the northern part of the state on Friday afternoon, but no warning or watch has been issued for Middlesex County.
East Hampton Public Works Director Keith Hayden said his department is ready for whatever the storm brings.
“We got the plows on. All the equipment is being checked. We got stuff in the shed,” Hayden said. “We’re as ready as we can be. So, we’re confident we’re good.”
High school sporting events scheduled for Saturday are already being addressed because of the expected weather by moving up the start times. The East Hampton-Vinal Tech football game against Lewis Mills in Bristol has been moved up to 10 a.m. The boys’ and girls’ cross country state tournament meets at Wickham Park in East Hartford also have had their times adjusted. The new times are:
- Boys M Division - 9 a.m.
- Boys MM Division - 10:05 a.m.
- Boys L Division - 11:10 a.m.
- Boys LL Division - 12:15 p.m.
- Boys S Division - 1:25 p.m.
- Boys SS Division - 2:30 p.m.
- Girls M Division - 9:30 a.m.
- Girls MM Division - 10:35 a.m.
- Girls L Division - 11:40 a.m.
- Girls LL Division - 12:50 p.m.
- Girls S Division - 1:55 p.m.
- Girls SS Division - 3 p.m.
Check the CASCIAC web site for any changes to high school sports events.
Coming off a winter of record snowfall, including two storms of 20-plus inches in Middlesex County, the hope for many might have been that this winter might be a little easier on us. If the potential for snow this weekend is an indicator, you might want to start planning for the worse. After all, winter is still seven weeks away.
An October snow storm might be rare in Connecticut, but it is not unheard of. However, because of trees having so many leaves still on them, one does bring unique concerns.
“Without ringing the alarm bells about snow in Connecticut, the reason I’m warning residents about this particular storm is because of the possibility of power outages,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a press release. “So today and tonight, think about what you’d need if the power went out – batteries, battery-powered radios, flashlights and of course ways to keep warm – extra clothing and blankets and be sure to check your generator if you have one. Hopefully this won’t be a blockbuster storm, but it is rare to have this type of potential so early in the season.”
Gov. Malloy held a conference call with his agency commissioners Friday afternoon, and afterward with cities and towns across the state.
Malloy’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection staff have been in touch with power and utility companies to discuss preparations ahead of the storm. It was announced late Friday afternoon that Malloy will open the Emergency Operations Center at the Hartford Armory on Saturday at 2 p.m. The EOC will remain open for the duration of the storm.
Also, the American Red Cross is contacting volunteers across Connecticut to determine their availability if any special assistance is needed during the storm.
“We plan ahead and prepare throughout the year so we can be ready when needed,” said American Red Cross spokesperson Paul Shipman.
Shipman said the Red Cross regularly works with state and local government to coordinate planning and response efforts and will be ready to do so if any special responses are needed during the storm.
“Thanks to the many volunteers who give of their time, we will be ready if needed,” he said.
Shipman said that, just as the Red Cross is preparing, residents can take steps ahead of the storm.
“Be prepared before the storm and follow some basic tips to stay safe,” Shipman said. “Avoid unnecessary travel. If you must travel, take it slow and easy to avoid accidents. Drivers of all-wheel-drive vehicles should remember that they can’t stop any faster than people in two-wheel-drive vehicles. Allow plenty of room between you and the car in front of you.”
Shipman also urged people to thoroughly clear snow from their vehicles.
“Snow blowing off a hood while driving can blind you and frozen chunks of snow blowing off the roofs and trunks of cars can shatter windshields if it blows off onto following vehicles,” he said.
In addition to hazardous driving, this storm is likely to increase the risk of power outages, as heavy ice and snow weigh down power lines and trees that are still in nearly full leaf coverage.
“Power outages can be hazardous, especially in cold weather,” Shipman said “Preparing ahead of time will help you and your family get through a storm as safely as possible.”
The recent experience of extended outages after Tropical Storm Irene should remind Connecticut residents of the importance of being prepared with appropriate nonperishable food, water, batteries and a portable radio.
“Don’t forget to charge your mobile phone ahead of the storm,” Shipman said. “You may need that phone to contact someone if the power is out.”
Editor's note: A press release from the Red Cross and information from the National Weather Service are included in this report.