Police and officials in area towns are gearing up for the third major storm in less than two weeks, which was due to blow in early this morning and linger through the evening.
Most are hoping the storm, which was expected to reach peak intensity by 4 a.m., doesn’t bring the wet, heavy snow that took down trees, limbs and utility lines last week, when hundreds in central Connecticut and thousands throughout the state lost power.
According to WFSB-TV3 meteorologist Mark Dixon, the wind gusts could hit 40 mph, but the snow may be lighter and fluffier, which could cut down on power outages this time around.
“The main event ramps up after midnight with the peak of the storm happening from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” Dixon said Monday. During that time snow likely fall at a rate of one to two inches per hour with possible heavier bands bringing three inches per hour, he said. “There is the potential for thunder snow and times of reduced visibility of one-quarter mile or white out conditions,” Dixon said.
The storm will hit the eastern portion of the state, Massachusetts and Rhode Island harder than Central and Western Connecticut, with the area from Hartford to Wallingford getting possibly 4 to 8 inches of snow, Dixon said.
Forecasters are predicting the storm will be at its height during the morning rush hour, said Amy Parmenter, a spokeswoman for AAA of Greater Hartford.
“We already know that drivers are more tired this week as their body clocks adjust to the change and there’s an extra hour of darkness in the morning, as well. Add to that a heavy snowfall on roads that are already slick and you’ve significantly raised the risk factor,” Parmenter said.
AAA is encouraging motorists to delay their morning commute or, if possible, avoid driving altogether until the storm has passed, she said.
“For those who must be on the road, AAA is reminding motorists to limit distractions, turn on headlights so you can see and be seen and, should visibility become significantly limited, pull over at your first opportunity to do so safely and wait for the storm to pass,” Parmenter added.
New Britain police, who issued more than 100 parking ban violation tickets during last week’s storm, are watching the weather and plan to have enough staff on hand, said Capt. William Steck who heads the Traffic Division.
“We are very fortunate. We’ll be well staffed Monday night into Tuesday morning,” Steck said Monday.
Patrol officers will be ticketing cars parked in emergency snow routes overnight, which is routine, since parking is always banned in those areas overnight from December to April. Traffic Division officers will be ready to jump in as day break, Steck said.
Mayor Erin Stewart determines if a parking ban will go into place. As of Monday morning, no ban had been issued.
All 17 plows and two pick-up trucks are ready to go, said Bryan Griswold, highway superintendent for the town of Berlin.
“It’s becoming old hat here in early spring,” he said.
Because the snow shouldn’t be as wet and heavy as last week’s, conditions should be better for his team, in terms of plowing and dealing with any trees that may fall, Griswold added.
Newington police were also watching the weather Monday and will be ready to adjust staff depending on how the storm plays out, Chief Stephen Clark said.
“During the last storm, the snow was heavy,” said Clark, whose officers responded to 40 hazards, including downed trees and wires, during last week’s storm. “I don’t know if it will be like that again, but if it is, and power lines come down, that’s a considerable concern.”
His department can hold officers over or bring people in if the weather warrants, he said.
“We’re flexible,” he said. “A lot of it will have to do with the weight of the snow.”
As a result of back-to-back storms, Gross said, the ground is wetter and trees are weaker heading into today’s storm, Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross said Monday. Line and tree crews, with the help of workers from around the country and Canada, are ready to respond should any power outages occur, he added.
“This will be the third nor’easter in two weeks,” said Gross. “We’ve been watching very closely ... We’ll respond as quickly as we can if any issues occur,” he added.
Gross reminded customers to stay away from downed wires or damaged poles and report them to 911; report any outages to Eversource immediately by calling 800-286-2000 or online at eversource.com; and have storm kits ready with water, food, medications and charged communication devices.
Staff writer Charles Paullin contributed to this story.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.