On first full day of spring, area expecting another snowstorm

BRIDGEPORT — Wednesday is the first full day of spring, but Mother Nature appears to have wintry plans for the area, as the fourth nor’easter in a month is expected to bring another blast of snow and wind.

The last storm to hit the area largely sparred Bridgeport, but forecasts indicate that won’t be the case on Wednesday.

The National Weather Service predicts 11 to 15 inches of total snow accumulation throughout northern and southern Fairfield and New Haven counties in the winter storm warning issued for the area.

The warning — issued for northern and southern Fairfield, New Haven and Middlesex counties and parts of New Jersey and New York — will be in effect from 6 a.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday.

“Snow will develop during the morning and become heavy by afternoon,” the warning said. “Expect significant reductions in visibility at times.”

The warning said travel will be difficult to impossible, especially during Wednesday’s evening commute.

“Assess whether you need to travel,” state police urged.

Drivers who must be on the road should clear their vehicles of all snow and ice and check weather and traffic reports before heading out, state police said.

Any driver that spins out or crashes should turn on their vehicle’s hazard lights and move the vehicle out of the travel lane if possible, state police said. Once the driver is safe from harm, state police said, they should call 911 for help.

Earlier this month, one nor’easter knocked down trees and wires, leaving about 160,000 households and businesses without power at its peak. And with winds expected to accompany Wednesday’s snowstorm, the weather service warned some could be in the dark again.

“A combination of the heavy snow and wind gusts up to 35 mph could bring down tree limbs and power lines, creating power outages,” the NWS warning said.

But United Illuminating and Eversource spokesmen said the companies are prepared.

“We are prepared, with a full complement of repair and tree crews ready to go when they’re needed,” said Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross.

After Tropical Storm Irene mowed through the Northeast on Aug. 27, 2011, utilities said they’ve been working hard to trim trees near power lines. That storm left more than 740,000 Connecticut homes and businesses in the dark.

“Our tree-trimming crews are out with a full schedule, even today,” Gross said Tuesday.

“We put in place new (tree-trimming) standards after Irene, which increased the distance between branches and power lines,” said Ed Crowder, a spokesman for UI.

Crowder said the company works closely with community leaders to restore power to essential facilities first — including emergency services, hospitals and even supermarkets in some cases.

“We’ve been securing additional resources such as private contractors in the event that they’re needed,” Crowder said.

But snow and wind aren’t the only concerns.

A coastal flood advisory will be in effect from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. Wednesday and from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday. There’s a possibility of, “minor coastal flooding … with the high tide cycles,” the NWS advisory said.

While residents buckle down for Wednesday’s storm, state police gave a snowstorm tip: “Sit Mother Nature down for a little chat and help her think spring!”