The snow was late in reaching Hartford today, but Gov. M. Jodi Rell still pushed the region’s employers to release their employees early to keep to the highways clear for the afternoon rush.

“By late morning, the snowfall was already beginning to take a toll on driving conditions in Fairfield County and along the Interstate 95 corridor,” Rell said. “The storm did not arrive in central Connecticut as quickly as forecasters first expected – but it is moving north at a steady 20 mph or so, and by early afternoon the predictions call for a snowfall of up to 3 inches an hour.”

Rell said the early release will allow the Department of Transportation to keep the roads clear.

Many Hartford employers agreed to abide by a state plan to stagger the release of workers to avoid midday gridlock, Rell said.

“We want to get our people home safely, so all of the employers who are releasing their workers early have agreed to begin a methodical release of staff between noon and 1 p.m. One third of workers will be released at noon, another third at 12:30 p.m. and the last third at 1 p.m. This will avoid a mass exodus that ties up the highways while getting people home safely before the worst of the storm hits Greater Hartford,” Rell said.

Rell was told during a briefing at the state Emergency Operations Center that a brief lull in the snowfall experienced in central Connecticut during the late morning was due to a mass of dry air that crossed the state. That dry air caused the heaviest snowfall to arrive later in the day than originally expected.

The latest snowfall predictions call for 6 inches of snow in northern Connecticut, up to 10 inches around Hartford, a foot from Danbury to Middletown and as much as 16 inches along the coast.

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