CT braces for nor’easter, but snow totals remain uncertain

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Forecasters and officials are preparing for a nor’easter with possible blizzard conditions heading into the weekend, but experts say how much snow falls in Connecticut will depend on the track of the storm.

“There remains the potential for a strong winter storm to impact the region from Friday night through Saturday night with heavy snow and strong winds,” the National Weather Service’s New York office said Wednesday evening.

However, there is also “quite a bit of uncertainty” due to differing weather models, which have mostly shifted eastward. The weather service said if this trend continues with future models, there will be probably less snow.

“There is a wide range in the model guidance,” forecasters said Wednesday, with the region potentially getting barely any snow to upwards of 20 inches.

“Bottom line, the goal posts are very wide at this time,” forecasters added.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ned Lamont urged residents to watch the forecast closely over the next several days.

“We're still a bit of a ways out, but we're watching the forecast for the potential of a significant snowstorm impacting Connecticut on Friday night through Saturday,” Lamont said on Twitter. “Models right now are projecting varying amounts, some showing just a few inches and some in the double digits.”

Gary Lessor, chief meteorologist at Western Connecticut State University, said U.S. and Canadian models of the storm have it tracking much farther to the east than the European model. As of Wednesday afternoon, he said the storm’s track is “still uncertain.”

Eastern portions of Connecticut as well as Rhode Island and other easterly parts of New England could get up to 20 inches of snow. The New Haven region could see around 5 to 10 inches, while the Danbury area farther to the west would get only a few inches — possibly as much as 6 inches, Lessor said.

The weather service has predicted snowfall to be about 7 inches in Danbury, 8.3 inches in Bridgeport, 8.7 inches in New Haven, and about 10 to 11 inches in eastern Connecticut.

The snow is anticipated to start falling Friday night. It will be moderate to heavy late at night into Saturday before tapering off late in the afternoon to evening hours, the weather service said.

Temperatures will remain cold leading up to the storm with wind chills in the single digits and teens, the weather service said.

In addition to snow, the storm could cause flooding and beach erosion along coastal areas, and strong winds may bring down power lines and trees, the weather service said.

Winds along the coast could gust up to 50 mph, or even higher in the east. Minor coastal flooding could develop, driven by waves.

But the storm’s impact will depend heavily on which way it tracks, and Lessor emphasized it could still head to the east with less impact to Connecticut.

“We’d like to be more concrete, but there’s too much variance in the track,” he said.

Rick Fontana, director of emergency operations for the city of New Haven, said the North American model has snow totals of around 8 to 10 inches, while the European model suggests the area could be blanketed with more than 15 inches of snow.

“Both are considering this a nor’easter with blizzard conditions,” Fontana said Wednesday. “So, we are preparing for a big storm at this point.”

Staff writer Liz Hardaway contributed to this report.