The area was gearing up Tuesday for what could be the biggest snowfall of the winter.
“For Central Connecticut, it will be an all-snow event. It could be the biggest snow producer for the season,” WFSB-TV meteorologist Mark Dixon said. “It could be a blockbuster.”
New Britain, Plainville, Southington, Berlin and Newington should see 8 to 18 inches of heavy, wet snow accumulate between this morning and Thursday morning, Dixon said. The state’s Northwest Hills could see more than 2 feet of snow, he added.
New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart issued a street parking ban that goes into effect at 9 a.m. this morning. Motorists violating the ban could face a $100 fine and have their cars towed. A list of free parking lots is available at www.newbritainherald.com .
According to the New Britain High School Twitter feed, the school is set to operate on an early dismissal schedule today with all students sent home at 11 a.m. School officials will re-evaluate the situation at 5 a.m.
Today’s expected storm has forced the postponement of tonight’s Committee on Administration, Finance and Law meeting in New Britain to March 27. The committee was set to discuss the city’s Beehive Bridge project, a potential new hiring in the city’s Revenue and Tax Collection Office and several ordinance changes.
The committee’s last scheduled meeting, on Wednesday, Feb. 7, had also been called off because of inclement weather.
As it usually does during the winter, the city’s Public Works Department was preparing trucks Tuesday, making sure they’re ready for the storm.
“This has the potential to be a pretty big storm, a long-duration storm,” Public Works Director Mark Moriarty said.
Moriarty said the department will have about 20 trucks on the road today. He encouraged residents to obey the parking ban during the storm. Vehicles left beside the road often forces plow operators to make additional runs later in the day.
“Our goal is to plow to the curb line, and people obeying the parking ban helps with that,” Moriarty said.
He also asked residents to not send snow into the road while clearing sidewalks.
Berlin police were preparing Tuesday by checking police cars and coordinating with the town’s emergency response officials, police said. The town has an automatic parking ban when snow reaches 4 inches, Deputy Chief Christopher Ciuci said. Town officials will let residents know if a parking ban is in effect before accumulation hits that mark, he said.
All plows and equipment in Berlin were ready to go as of Tuesday afternoon, Berlin Fire Marshal Steve Waznia said.
“We’re treating it as a normal snowstorm and going to take care of it,” he said, outside of moving the trash schedule. Trash pickup for today was moved to 4 a.m. Trash will be picked up at the usual time on Thursday, he said.
Residents should follow the Berlin Emergency Operations Facebook page and town website for updates throughout the day. Berlin High School is set up to serve as an emergency shelter in case of power outages or extreme cold.
Generators for the fire departments and town services are ready to go, Waznia said.
Winds will be in the 30 to 40 mph range - weaker than Friday’s nor’easter that left thousands without power, but still strong enough to cause trees and power lines to come down because of the weight of the snow, Dixon said.
“It won’t be as bad as last Friday, but the ground is saturated because we got 1 to 2 inches of rain,” Dixon said. “Trees could more easily topple with the wind. The snow will be wet and heavy and tough to move, shovel and clear.”
Light snow should start this morning, ramping up through late afternoon, creating a “treacherous” evening commute. At the height of the storm this afternoon, snow will fall at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour, Dixon said. “It will pile up quickly,” he said.
While everyone is waiting for the arrival of spring, Dixon said winter may not be done just yet. There is the potential for another storm Monday into Tuesday, but models are showing it going out to sea for now.
“I cannot say definitely this is the last storm,” he said.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.