Connecticut coast wakes to blizzard warning

UPDATE: 2 p.m. — Darien Police report conditions are quiet in town and there have been no storm-related traffic accidents. The roadway around the entrance to Pear Tree Point is closed due to flooding and there were flooding incidents reported on Rowayton Avenue as high tides are expected. Roads remain unsafe and unnecessary travel is not recommended. Metro North will cease all operation as of 4 p.m. Saturday.

The first winter storm of 2016 changed course overnight, and a blizzard is now expected to hit Southwestern Connecticut Saturday into Sunday.

In Fairfield, snow began falling around 5 Saturday morning. Traces of snow were reported in Ridgefield around 6:30 a.m.

At 9 a.m. First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said Darien residents should avoid unnecessary travel.

"The largest snow accumulations yet to come. The winds are very high right now, blowing and drifting. If you don't have to go out, don't go out," she said.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for southern Fairfield and New Haven counties, as well as the rest of coastal Connecticut, in effect until 7 a.m. Sunday. As of Friday night, the blizzard warning extended only over Long Island, with southern Connecticut facing a winter storm warning.

The dropoff is quick. Stamford and Fairfield, on the coast, and New Canaan to the north, are under blizzard warnings. Towns just to the north and east, such as Trumbull and Shelton, are under a winter storm warning.

A blizzard warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. The National Weather Service warns that falling and blowing snow could cause whiteout conditions with zero visibility, making travel extremely dangerous. Snowfall totals of 8 to 12 inches are possible in the blizzard warning area.

The winter storm warning predicts 6 to 10 inches of snow, with heavier amounts possible locally.

The winds that will cause blowing snow along the coast may also cause property damage. The storm is a Nor’easter, with wind from the Northeast at 25 to 30 miles per hour, gusting to 50 miles per hour.

Temperatures are expected to range between 25 and 30 Saturday.

Those along the Long Island Sound are also under a coastal flood warning from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, with a coastal flood advisory from 9 p.m. Saturday until 1 a.m. Sunday. Ties could range from more than 2 feet to more than 3 feet above astronomical high tide. Coastal roads and property could be under wind-driven water at high tide.

Most activities scheduled for today, including SAT exams and sporting events, have been postponed or canceled. Check HAN Network websites for updates as the storm unfolds.

Numerous towns have declared a snow emergency and banned parking on streets.

Residents are advised to stay off the roads to allow crews to keep them clear. Those who must travel are advised by emergency officials to have a survival kit, and stay with the vehicle if stranded.