What you need to know as bitter cold weather hits Connecticut

Photo of Nicholas Rondinone
An Arctic front is expected to plunge temperatures into the teens with wind chills making it feel as cold as negative 10 degrees Tuesday.

An Arctic front is expected to plunge temperatures into the teens with wind chills making it feel as cold as negative 10 degrees Tuesday.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

A front with Arctic temperatures has descended on Connecticut, threatening wind chills as low as negative 10 degrees on Tuesday and into Wednesday.

The temperatures come amid a relatively mild start to the winter season. Officials have enacted severe weather protocols meant to coordinate efforts to help those experiencing homelessness and those in need of a warm place to weather the cold.

“I think it’s a good time to stay home and stay warm,” Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday ahead of the cold snap.

Here’s what you need to know about this week’s cold snap:

When will the cold start?

Temperatures, already relatively cold on Monday, were expected to plummet overnight into the low single digits, according to forecasters. The temperatures are expected increase to the teens on Tuesday.

How cold could it get?

According to meteorologists, temperatures could dip into the teens, but the wind could make it feel much colder.

The weather service’s New York office said in a bulletin Tuesday wind chills of around zero are expected along the coast, and as low as negative 10 degrees inland.

Forecasters said there will be a northwest wind Tuesday blowing 10 to 20 mph.

“If you need to be outside, be prepared for the wind and cold, and dress in layers and wear a hat, heavy coat, as well as gloves or mittens,” the weather service said. “Frostbite can occur in a short amount of time, so dress in layers and make sure all exposed skin is protected.”

When will it warm up again?

Forecasts show temperatures return to a seasonable normal on Wednesday with a high in the mid-30s, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures are expected to remain relatively mild through the end of the week. But on Friday night, the forecast calls for single-digit lows.

What’s the reason for the cold?

The air is being pulled into the region by a cold front that hit the state Monday night and a tropical low pressure Tuesday evening, “a two-step process,” said Gary Lessor, chief meteorologist at the Connecticut Weather Center at Western Connecticut State University.

“Basically, this cold has been locked up from the upper Rockies to the upper Midwest for the past few weeks and it’s finally being tapped,” Lessor said.

How is state and local government responding?

Lamont activated the state’s severe weather protocol on Monday ahead of the significant drop in temperatures.

“The purpose of the protocol is to ensure that the most vulnerable populations receive protection from the severe cold conditions, which could be life-threatening if exposed to the elements for extended periods of time,” Lamont’s office said in a news release.

Along with the activation of the protocol, many municipalities are opening warming centers in public buildings to offer refuge from the Arctic chill.

Are schools affected?

Some schools, including New Haven and Middletown public schools, announced they would open two hours later than normal on Tuesday in response to the cold.

But others said they planned to open on time. Norwalk Public Schools said in a Facebook post that staff had driven to all of the district’s schools and reported clear driving. “Our bus company, Durham, has also reported that buses are ready to go. Students should dress warmly for an on-time start to school,” the post said.

Outside of the state, Boston Public Schools announced they would close for the day in response to the cold, the Associated Press reported.

How can people learn about available resources?

Officials are urging people in need of help during the extreme cold to contact the 211 service, either by calling the number or visit its website, 211ct.org.