Nor’easter could bring 14-plus inches of snow to Danbury area: ‘This will be a rapidly strengthening storm’

Photo of Dan Brechlin

Residents of the Danbury area can expect more than a foot of snow and strong winds, but limited power outages this weekend, according a local meteorological expert.

The nor’easter headed for New England was expected to hit the state Friday night and carry over into Saturday. A winter storm warning is in effect from 7 p.m. Friday until 7 p.m. Saturday.

“This will be a rapidly strengthening storm,” said Gary Lessor, a meteorologist with the Weather Center at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

The Danbury area is expected to see between seven to 14 inches of snow by Saturday night, but total accumulation could reach up to 16 or 17 inches, Lessor said.

At its peak, the storm could bring two inches of snow per hour, which Lessor said would create very poor visibility. Wind speeds are expected to hit around 20 to 30 mph during the day on Saturday, with gusts up to 45 mph. A few isolated power outages are possible in the Danbury area, Lessor said.

Officials and crews in the Danbury area were prepping for the storm, which has varied in terms of predictions over the last few days. The city issued a “level 3” snow emergency, meaning parking is prohibited on the streets and that travel on city streets will be restricted to emergency vehicles, public works, four-wheel drive, and emergency personnel only.

“They’re talking more snow now, but that doesn't change our approach,” said Tim Nolan, Danbury superintendent of public services. “When they were anywhere between a half inch and 18 inch, we always prepare for 18. That's all there is to it.”

Danbury crews planned to load their trucks with salt and install plow blades after lunch on Friday.

Crews put salt on the roads shortly before the snow starts, but changing forecasts made it difficult, as of Friday morning, to tell when that would be, Nolan said. The forecast showed light snow throughout the day, but it hadn’t started snowing as of around 9 a.m., he said.

“We’ll, as usual, pay close attention,” Nolan said.

It was just as difficult to tell when roads would be passable after the snow falls.

“It all depends on 18 inches or 14 inches,” Nolan said. “What I can say is, we stay on the job until the roads are clear and safe for traffic.”

Following an emergency management preparedness meeting Thursday, Brookfield First Selectman Tara Carr said that all teams are standing ready.

“We are prepared for the worst, but hope for the best,” she wrote in a message to The News-Times. “Our DPW [Department of Public Works], police, fire and EMS are ready as always.”

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi said the highway department would start salting the roads an hour or two before the snow starts to fall.

“The purpose is to get it … crushed and spread with vehicular traffic so we’ve got a good bed of salt laid out,” he said. “As it continues to snow we’ll do another layer, then at 2 to 3 inches, start plowing and keep up with it as best we can.”

The significant wind gusts expected with this storm will create blizzard-like conditions, Marconi said, so he advised residents to stay off the roads unless it’s an emergency. He also urged residents to clear their curbs of any trash or recycling receptacles to make way for the plows.

“It’s gonna be a difficult storm if we get 15 to 18 inches … (and) the trucks (will be) pushing it back as far as they can to maintain the width of the road,” he said. “We’ve certainly had our share of major snowfalls, and it’s been a while since we had one … (but) we’re prepared, we’re ready and people need to be patient.”

New Milford sent out a lengthy weather update to residents Friday morning, providing the latest storm projections, including projected wind gusts of 35 to 45 mph. Bass said the town expects a foot or more of snow.

“Our DPW and Park & Rec teams will be plowing our roads and Town Parking lots,” the message from Mayor Pete Bass said.

Bass said brine trucks are pre-treating hills and intersections ahead of the storm. Tonight, the teams will be making sure the chains are on the truck tires before heading home.

The major concern for Bass, which he noted in his message, was that the high wind speeds may cause downed trees and power outages.

“Please make sure that your generator has fuel and is not inside an enclosed space. Please charge all of your electronics in case of an outage. I will provide updates as the storm progresses,” he said.

Saturday COVID testing appointments at New Milford’s John Pettibone Community Center have been canceled ahead of the storm, according to an announcement sent out by the town Friday morning. Residents are being asked to come back next week for their test.

“We’ve handled these storms before, done a good job with it,” Bass said.

The timing of the storm is expected to be beneficial in terms of priorities, local leaders added.

“It’s a weekend, so that’s good,” Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton said. “We’re not worrying about school buses and school closures, so that takes stresses off parents.”

More storm coverage

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Photos: Winter storm brings heavy snow to Connecticut

How to stay safe in the snowstorm

Staff writers Julia Perkins, Currie Engel and Alyssa Seidman contributed to this story.