Winter Storm Elsa is on the way! - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Technical Discussion

Winter Storm Elsa is on the way!

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Today will be gorgeous with sunshine, less wind than yesterday and seasonable - highs in the 40s….

With regard to Elsa:

  • Snow starts around daybreak (light and scattered), then AFTER the Wednesday morning commute the storm begins ramping up late morning into the early afternoon.  The peak of the storm still appears to be from mid-afternoon, through the evening, into the early overnight hours.  Snowfall rates at the height of the storm will 1-2”/hr (perhaps heavier, especially if there is thundersnow).  It will be a heavy/wet snow and visibility will be an issue as the snow quickly adds up as the day progresses into night. The precip ends Thursday morning (therefore also impacting that commute).  As you’ve probably seen, we have upped our snow forecast, 8-18” for much of the state (the most in NW CT).  There is still a bit uncertainty to where the rain/snow line sets up and how far into CT it reaches… this is why we’re forecasting 4-8” in coastal/SE CT.  The one ‘fly in the ointment’ is a potential dry slot --- meaning if drier air works into the state, which is now a possibility, the snowfall totals may not be *as* high.
  • Compared to last Friday’s storm, the wind will not be *as* intense – but the wind will still be problematic with gusts 30 to 40 mph here in CT.
  • Power outages –  (a) could increase given the ground is still saturated from last Friday’s nor’easter, compromising the root systems of trees making it easier for them to fall with the gusty wind, (b) given the heavy/wet nature of the snow, outages could become more numerous as it will weigh down limbs/branches.   

Beyond this mid-week storm, Friday thru Sunday will be storm-free.  Early next week, another nor’easter was/is possible… but latest model runs keep it offshore (so bears watching).

Meteorologist Mark Dixon


A WINTER STORM WARNING remains in effect for all of Connecticut (except for New London County where a WINTER STORM WATCH is in effect) from Wednesday morning through Thursday morning with Winter Storm Elsa on the way!

Previous Discussion...


Overall, today is going to be a nice day!  We are forecasting partly to mostly sunny skies, light winds, and highs in the low and middle 40s.  The normal, or average, high for March 6th is 44 degrees. 

Tonight, we can expect increasing cloudiness and lows 25-32.


A major winter storm will impact the state tomorrow, tomorrow night, and Thursday morning.  Channel 3 has named the storm “Elsa” since we are forecasting at least 6” of snow for most of the state.  That is one criteria that needs to met for naming winter storms, a Channel 3 tradition that dates back to 1971.  The storm will develop near the coast of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia tomorrow morning.  The center will then move northeastward to a position near Cape Cod by early Thursday morning. 

Snow will likely develop tomorrow morning, mainly after the morning commute.  However, we can’t rule out some patchy light snow in the state during the morning commute.  Snow is expected to become heavy at times tomorrow afternoon and it will last through tomorrow night.  Snowfall rates could reach 1-2”/hr. during the height of the storm.  Since the storm is tracking close to the coast of Southern New England, sleet and rain could mix in especially in eastern portions of Connecticut.  Temperatures will reach the 30s to near 40 tomorrow, but they will drop closer to the freezing mark when the snow becomes steadier.  Lows tomorrow night will be in the upper 20s and lower 30s.  That means this will be a heavy, wet snow.  The wind won’t be nearly as strong as we saw during last week’s powerful coastal storm.  However, gusts to 30-40 mph are possible late tomorrow night and Thursday.  The combination of gusty winds and heavy, wet snow could lead to scattered power outages.

Snow will end Thursday morning, then the rest of the day will be mostly cloudy and blustery with highs 40-45.

Snowfall totals from Winter Storm Elsa are expected to range from 8-18”!  However, more than two feet of snow could fall especially in the Litchfield Hills.  In Southeastern Connecticut, snowfall accumulation may be cut down by mixing with sleet and rain.  About the only big unknown with this storm is where the rain/snow line will eventually reach.


This will be a relatively quiet period.  In the aftermath of Winter Storm Elsa, we expect a partly sunny, breezy, chilly Friday with lows in the mid to upper 20s and highs in the low and middle 40s.  The weekend looks good too.  Saturday should be partly sunny, but there will be a brisk northwest wind.  Highs will range from 40-45.  Sunday will be partly to mostly sunny and the wind will become lighter.  Morning lows will be in 20s and temperatures should rise higher into the 40s Sunday afternoon.

Don’t forget, this weekend we will “spring forward” to daylight Saving time!  This is when we turn our clocks ahead 1 hour when we go to bed Saturday night.  On Saturday, the sun will rise at 6:11 and it will set at 5:52.  Because of the time change, the sun will rise at 7:09 Sunday morning and it will set at 6:53 in the evening!


There is the potential for another major winter storm.  However, the latest model runs keep the bulk of the storm off the New England Coast with a minimal impact on Connecticut.  This is a storm we’ll have to watch closely.  A shift in the storm track closer to the coast could mean another heavy snowfall for Connecticut.  A shift away from the coast would mean little or no snow.


The average temperature for February came in at 35.5 degrees, which makes this February the 5th warmest in 113 years of record keeping for the Greater Hartford Area!  The warmest February on record for the Greater Hartford Area was in 1998 when the average temperature was 36.2 degrees.  February 1954 is in 2nd place with an average temperature of 36.1.  February 2012 is in 3rd place with an average temperature of 35.7.  February 1925 is in 4th place with an average temperature of 35.6.  Currently, February 1981 is in 5th place with an average temperature of 35.3 degrees.

We had plenty of precipitation in February.  The grand total was 5.13” at Bradley International.  This includes rain and the water equivalent of snow and ice.  Normal precipitation for February is 2.89”.  That means we had a surplus of 2.24”.  Total snowfall for the month was 8.3”, which is 2.7” below normal.

Chief Meteorologist Bruce DePrest

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