NEW BRITAIN - Although the snow was late in starting, conditions deteriorated Wednesday afternoon as a powerful storm entered Central Connecticut.
The track of the storm shifted eastward, which could mean 8 to 12 inches of snow for the New Britain area, according to WFSB-TV meteorologist Mark Dixon.
“The main event is still coming,” Dixon said around 1 p.m. “The peak is expected from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. It will be ramping up in the next hour.”
The storm turned colder than originally expected and there was a possibility of some thunder snow, Dixon said. Snow was expected to fall at a rate of 1 to 3 inches an hour, he said. By 1 p.m., visibility in Danbury was at one-half mile, Dixon said.
As light snow began to fall in much of the state Wednesday morning, all area public schools and colleges canceled classes.
By noon, Bradley International Airport reported that about 50 percent of its Wednesday flights had been canceled, while others had been delayed.
Gov. Dannel Malloy partially activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center at 11 a.m. Wednesday to monitor storm conditions across the state and prepare for the full impact of the storm.
A significant impact on afternoon and evening travel Wednesday was forecast, with up to 18 inches of snow predicted for some areas of Connecticut. The heaviest snow was expected in southwestern Connecticut and the northern portion of the state.
The governor sent nonessential state employees home at staggered, 15-minute intervals beginning at noon. He said all nonessential second-shift employees had been told not to report to work.
“We are also encouraging private sector businesses to consider similar plans,” Malloy said. Travel will be dangerous this afternoon with white-out conditions at times. If you do not need to be on the road this afternoon and evening, please stay safely at home.”
Malloy said the Department of Transportation had 634 plow trucks ready to go, with 200 contractor plows on call.
According to state officials, the EOC is staffed with personnel from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, the Department of Transportation, the Connecticut National Guard, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Administrative Services and liaisons from Eversource and United Illuminating.
Areas towns were also bracing for the storm.
Town Hall offices in Berlin were closed at noon, acting Town Manager Jack Healy said.
All plows, salt and emergency operations were in place and ready to go, Healy said.
As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, 96 customers were without electricity, according to Eversource’s power outage map, with none in the New Britain area.
The causes included a downed line in Cornwall to a pre-emptive shutoff in New Canaan to repair equipment, said Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross.
“We’re just waiting,” Gross said.
Customers are reminded to have their storm kits ready, including water, nonperishable food, medical supplies and fully charged phones, flashlights and other devices.
Any downed wires should be avoided and reported immediately to 9-1-1. Outages should be reported to eversource.com or calling 800-286-2000.
Those on the company’s two-way texting feature can send a text to report an outage and receive outage updates as they happen.
New Britain officers ticketed cars illegally parked on overnight snow emergency routes and were waiting until snow fell before enforcing the parking ban, said Police Capt. William Steck, who heads the Traffic Division.
Throughout the day, police sought voluntary compliance with the parking ban, which went into effect at 9 a.m.
“We didn’t write any tickets, but we identified neighborhoods where it could be a problem,” Steck said. “We had a lot of success. People understood that a storm was coming.”
Those who leave their cars on the street could face a $100 fine and towing at their expense.
A list of free parking areas in the city can be found at www.newbritainherald.com .
Second shift officers and members of the Traffic Division were told to begin the ticketing and, if needed, the towing, at 3 p.m., Steck said.
“The best thing you can do is adhere to the parking ban and let Public Works do their job,” Chief James Wardwell said.
Staff writers Charles Paullin and Skyler Frazer contributed to this story .
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.