'Wicked New England storm' brings blizzard to parts of CT

While snowfall totals were less than expected in some areas, other parts of Connecticut saw 2 feet of snow during Saturday’s nor’easter that brought most activities to a halt.

Described by Gov. Ned Lamont as “a wicked New England storm,” parts of the state experienced winds up to 48 mph and a blizzard was confirmed in New London County, the National Weather Service said.

Leading up to the storm, forecasters said it was difficult to predict the snowfall totals, which ended up ranging from a few inches in lower Fairfield County to more than a foot in eastern Connecticut.

Nearly 11 inches of snow was recorded at Sikorsky Airport, while the higher amounts were measured farther east with more than 14 in Ledyard and about 12 in Essex and Clinton, the weather service said.

“This is not our first rodeo,” Lamont said. “We’ve been through these storms before.”

Connecticut was among 10 states along the East Coast that were hit by the storm, with some major metro areas getting at least a foot of snow. The Associated Press reported more than a foot of snow in New Jersey and 2 feet in Massachusetts, as well as wind gusts of 60 mph or more in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

More storm coverage

How much snow has fallen in Connecticut?

Photos: Winter storm brings heavy snow to Connecticut

How to stay safe in the snowstorm

More than 4,500 flights were canceled across the U.S., including most flights in and out of New York, Boston and Philadelphia, according to the Associated Press.

Bradley International Airport also canceled all of its arriving and departing flights on Saturday.

Airport spokesperson Ryan Terry anticipates flights to resume Sunday, but passengers scheduled to travel this weekend have been advised to contact their airline to confirm the status of their flight before heading to the airport.

Though utility companies were prepared for widespread power outages, Connecticut was mostly spared throughout the day Saturday with just a few isolated outages.

“We’re thankful the storm has had minimal impacts on our electrical grid, but we’re prepared for any impacts,” said Chuck Eves, UI’s vice president of electrical operations. “The combination of snow and strong, sustained winds make being outdoors dangerous for anyone, but our crews have the right equipment and gear to stay warm and be prepared if they need to be outside.”

The same wasn’t the case in Massachusetts, where Eversource reported more than 100,000 of its 1.5 million customers there were without power Saturday afternoon.

The brunt of the storm hit Connecticut early Saturday morning when a bomb cyclone, or “bombogenesis,” was detected, according to Gary Lessor, chief meteorologist at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. This meant the storm’s barometric pressure dropped 24 millibars in 24 hours, causing the storm’s precipitation and wind speeds to rapidly strengthen.

Lamont said there were some parts of the state where snow fell at a rate of 3 inches per hour.

“Snow plows can’t come around fast enough to get that cleared,” he said.

The state Department of Transportation, which said it was facing a 30 percent workforce shortage — mostly due to vacancies and some COVID absences — heading into the storm, reported some issues trying to clear the snow during the height of the nor’easter.

“We are still short-staffed and the plowing and clearing of the highways and roads may take longer than expected,” DOT spokesperson Kafi Rouse said.

As the storm departed, gusty winds and Arctic air remained with wind chills making it feel between negative-14 and negative-8 degrees across Connecticut, the weather service said.

Sunday will bring sunny skies and high temperatures in the mid 20s. The morning could have gusty winds of up to 25 and 30 mph that will lessen during the afternoon, the weather service said. At night, temperatures will dip into the single digits to lower teens.