Blizzard conditions are expected to leave Connecticut’s highways impassable well before the evening commute Friday, prompting Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to order non-essential state employees to stay home Friday.
The National Weather Service says light snow will begin Friday morning and turn heavy in the afternoon, with gusty winds dropping visibility to less than a quarter-mile. Possible accumulations in Hartford are three to five inches during the day and another 10 to 16 inches at night, with snow continuing into Saturday.
“Snowfalls of as much as three inches an hour are possible tomorrow,” Malloy said Thursday night at a briefing at the Emergency Operations Center in Hartford.
The blizzard is the result of a collision of a polar and subtropical air masses that “will combine to produce a major and potentially historic winter storm for the Northeastern U.S.,” according to an advisory from the National Weather Service.
Malloy warned of widespread travel disruptions.
Later Thursday night, Malloy ordered non-essential state employees to stay home Friday and urged others to stay off the roads, as well.
“Based on the forecasts we’re looking at now, I am asking non-essential state employees to remain at home on Friday,” Malloy said. “If the worst-case scenario plays out, we will need roads clear for emergency personnel and utility crews. But even under the best of circumstances, it appears at this point that the best course of action is to keep people off the roads. Whether you’re a state employee or not, if you can stay home and off the roads tomorrow, please do so.”
Based on current projections from Northeast Utilities and United Illuminating, Malloy had relatively good news for a state wary of blackouts after massive and sustained outages after late October storms in 2011 and 2012.
“Right now, both electric utilities are treating this as an occurrence that would lead to the knocking out of energy to about 10 percent of their customers in each case,” Malloy said. “That’s primarily based on wind damage.”
With no foliage on the trees, the state is not expecting the massive damages to trees and the power grid, he said.
The National Weather Service was predicted scattered outages. Utilities may not be able to make repairs until Saturday, after the winds subside.
The storm could equal or exceed the greatest snowfall of Malloy’s tenure: a storm that dumped 24 inches Jan. 12, 2011, a week after he took office.
Malloy said he was aware of some gas stations running dry and some supermarkets being short of milk and bread Thursday. Topping off gas tanks, picking up a gallon of milk and generally preparing for 24 hours without the ability to shop was wise, he said.
“All I ask is that you don’t hoard things,” he said.