Bitterly cold temperatures will follow a coastal snowstorm that covered the state Thursday night into Friday morning.
The snow is expected to wind down Friday morning, but the cold will continue through Saturday morning, when temperatures could fall below zero and reach record-breaking lows, FOX CT meteorologist Rachel Frank said.
At a press conference Thursday evening, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said that cold was his biggest concern, especially with wind chills well below zero.
“People are not used to this cold,” Malloy said Thursday.
Many schools opted to close early on Thursday, and a growing list of schools will be closed on Friday, including many in the Hartford area.
State employees were sent home about 90 minutes earlier than normal on Thursday because snow had been falling for most of the day. Malloy also ordered a delayed opening for state offices on Friday, directing all nonessential state employees to report to work at 9:30 a.m.
By midafternoon Thursday, most of the state had 1 to 2 inches of snow, with on and off snowfall, but much larger amounts were expected to fall overnight. FOX CT meteorologist Joe Furey said that after the light snow much of Thursday, “it will be pouring down snow” Thursday night and into Friday.
Road conditions during the Thursday evening commute were fair, but won’t stay that way through the night, said state Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick.
“We made it through the rush hour pretty clearly, but I don’t expect it to stay that way much longer,” he said.
The department’s entire fleet of plows was on the roads starting Thursday morning. At about 7 p.m., the DOT called in approximately 200 private contractors to supplement the state’s 632 trucks, Nursick said.
Although the snow is expected to start moving out about the time of the morning commute on Friday, plows will need to catch up before the roads improve, Frank said.
“This will be a tough storm to clean up with gusty winds, blowing and drifting of snow combined with cold temperatures,” she said.
Friday morning will start with wind chills of minus 10 to 15 degrees and temperatures will drop throughout the day, Frank said. Sub-zero, record-breaking cold is predicted for Friday night into Saturday morning.
Jurors scheduled to appear at state court houses on Friday were told not to report.
Metro-North Commuter Railroad announced that starting at 8 p.m. Thursday service would be cut to hourly trains making all stops. After midnight, Metro-North will operate a schedule with train combinations and cancellations to prevent trains from becoming stranded during the storm.
Amtrak also announced a modified train schedule for Friday with fewer trains running routes throughout New England.
I-91 in Longmeadow, Mass., just across the state line, was closed on Thursday after a northbound tractor trailer slid through a guardrail and crossed over the center median into the southbound lanes. It reopened about 2:20 p.m.
Between midnight and about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, AAA got 1,099 calls for emergency road service in Greater Hartford and eastern Connecticut, according to a release.
Early Thursday afternoon, the University of Connecticut announced that classes that begin at 5 p.m. and later on Thursday were canceled, and that no classes would be held on Friday.
Frank said to expect snowfall totals between 5 and 10 inches. Far less snow had fallen by 3 p.m. Thursday: Vernon had two inches, while Thomaston had just over one inch.
The National Weather Service‘s winter storm warning stretched from 4 a.m. Thursday to 10 a.m. Friday.
Local totals are hard to predict because the snow will be light and fluffy and there will be lots of wind, Furey said. Wind gusts to 40 mph were possible Thursday night.
Coastal flooding is possible in Fairfield and New Haven counties.
On Thursday afternoon, warming centers were opened to residents all over the state throughout the weekend.
On Long Island, the strong winds prompted a blizzard warning for Thursday night. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced that I-84, I-87 and the Long Island Expressway would be closed between midnight and 5 a.m. Friday because of the storm.
Staff members at the Immaculate Conception Shelter and Housing Corp. on Park Street braced for an influx of homeless men. They operate a no-freeze shelter in the winter and — unlike other city shelters — the shelter accepts men who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, said Teresa Wierbicki, development director.
“We won’t be turning people away,” she said.
Anyone who goes out in the cold should dress appropriately, said Cindy Lord, associate professor and director of the physician assistant program at Quinnipiac University.
To avoid hypothermia, she said, cover up, avoid overexertion, dress in loose-fitting layers and stay dry.
Airlines have notified passengers that flights might be disrupted. US Airways and JetBlue have relaxed fees for passengers using area airports, including Bradley, who might have to change flight plans because of the storm. Individual airlines make their own decisions about canceling flights, and the operations staff at Bradley International Airport urged travelers to check with their airlines.
Bus operator Peter Pan has canceled service as a result of the storm. Passengers should check with the bus line.