UPDATED FRIDAY 7:15 A.M. — The Town of Greenwich has declared a snow emergency starting at noon on Friday in anticipation of a blizzard that could bring up to two feet of snow to the area.
On Friday morning, saying they were “erring on the side of caution” Greenwich Public Schools Director of Communications Kim Eves said that schools would be canceled. Previously they had been set to have a three-hour early dismissal but now they will not open at all. The Convent of the Sacred Heart is also not opening but Brunswick School and Greenwich Academy will still have morning classes with early dismissal. Because the public schools are closed, though, there will be no town bus service for students.
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for southern Fairfield County which is in effect from 6 a.m. on Friday to 1 p.m. on Saturday. In anticipation of that, the town’s Emergency Operations Center will be opened and First Selectman Peter Tesei used the town’s reverse-911 system to call residents on Thursday night and warn them about the snow conditions. He said that the snow is expected to arrive early on Friday with as little as six to 12 inches and as much as two feet of snow possible between noon on Friday and Saturday afternoon. Coastal flooding in low lying and coastal areas during high tide is also possible with a storm surge of six or even nine feet above normal. Mr. Tesei said residents should be ready for flooding and loss of power due to wet, heavy snow and expected strong winds.
Mr. Tesei said that travel on Friday night should be avoided and residents should make plans to leave early tomorrow and then stay indoors. Vehicles will not be allowed to be parked or left standing in snow emergency areas and those that do so will be subject to ticketing and immediate towing. The snow emergency will be in effect through Saturday afternoon at least.
Heavy snow and strong winds are being forecast with snow accumulation of 18 to 24 inches. Winds are precast from 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 45 mph.
Visibility, according to the weather service, will be one-quarter mile or less at times. The strongest winds and heaviest snow will occur Friday evening into Saturday morning.
The weather service said heavy snow and winds will make for dangerous driving conditions with visibilities near zero in white-out condition. In addition, it said some tree limbs will be downed, causing scattered power outages.
In a press conference on Thursday night, Gov. Dan Malloy urged residents to avoid unnecessary travel during the height of the predicted blizzard on Friday. He said the state has 632 plow trucks ready to work throughout the storm that is expected to be at its worst Friday afternoon through mid-Saturday. The state is also pre-treating highways and bridges in anticipation of up to a possible two-foot accumulation of snow.
A blizzard warding, according to the weather service, means severe winter weather conditions are expected. The weather service said if you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you. If stranded, stay in your vehicle, it advised.
Metro North has said it will offer extra trains on Friday during the early afternoon to try and get people home but because of that there will be reduced service later in the day during the afternoon peak. Canceled trains and combined services are possible. More information will be available at mta.info/supplemental/mnr/mnr_weather_info.html.
In Greenwich the forecast from the National Weather Service says that snow is likely to start Friday afternoon with anything from three to seven inches possible. Friday night, the snow is expected to increase with estimates putting it between eight and 12 inches and heavy gusts of wind of close to 41 mph also possible. The snow is then expected to taper off Saturday morning until ending in the early afternoon.
Concerns about the wind are worrying residents who have suffered loss of power for days as a result of past storms. Connecticut Light & Power has pledged that it has work crews standing by throughout the state to respond if needed.
Mr. Malloy said those without power using generators should use them safely, making sure ventilation areas are clear and not risking carbon monoxide poisoning. Mr. Malloy said he expected state offices to be open on Friday morning but there would likely be an early dismissal — but that could change depending upon revisiting of forecasts at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Mr. Malloy said that while it is expected to stock up on supplies when storms occur, hoarding supplies like milk, bread or gas is discouraged. When asked how much snow Mr. Malloy expected, the governor responded “more than I want.”
Mr. Malloy addred that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is on site for Friday’s storm and many FEMA agents remain in the state working on Hurricane Sandy recovery. Should there be a need for a State of Emergency declaration in Connecticut, Mr. Malloy said he is “prepared to declare whatever I need to declare” and paperwork is already in process. He also encouraged all local municipalities to keep roads clear for emergency purposes and to open their Emergency Operation Centers. Mr. Malloy said the state’s EOC will open as of 9 a.m. Friday and that the state is taking the blizzard “very seriously.”
Mr. Malloy is expected to have another briefing at noon on Friday. On Friday morning his office tweeted out that the Department of Transportation has more than 800 state and private plows ready to be deployed throughout Connecticut to clear roads once the storm begins. He added that the DOT has been pre-treating highway bridges and other “problematic areas.”
Check Greenwich-post.com and twitter.com/greenwichpost.com for all the latest updates.