Hugh McQuaid Photo
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (Hugh McQuaid Photo)

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy urged holiday travelers and other motorists to stay off the roads if possible Wednesday as the year’s first major snowfall coincides with Thanksgiving travel.

During a Tuesday press conference in the state Emergency Operations Center, Malloy said Wednesday’s snowfall is expected to be at its worst between 2 p.m. and 11 p.m.

“If there’s any chance for people to plan their travel so that they are not on the road during that time, you should do so. Quite frankly, if you could complete your travel plans today, you’d be far better off,” he said.

The National Weather Service is predicting snow accumulations of 6 to 10 inches. The rain and snow will begin on Wednesday morning and could change to all snow through Wednesday afternoon through Wednesday night. The heaviest snow will call between Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Winter storm warnings are issued when an average of 6 inches of snow or more is expected in a 12-hour period.

Malloy said the expected snowfall was most notable because of the unusual volume of motorists expected to be on the roads for the holiday.

“The extraordinary nature is that this is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving which is normally the busiest travel day — air, rail, and highways. Over 50 million people are expected to be traveling nationally because the holiday,” he said. “A fair portion of those people are here in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, the corridor.”

Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said his department has a fleet of 632 snowplows and another 251 contractor trucks prepared for the storm. The department also has 112 front loaders and 12 large snowblower trucks at the ready. He said the department may begin pre-treating the roads overnight. Snow removal equipment and crews that were loaned to New York last week are back in Connecticut and ready to respond, Redeker said.

The governor said his administration may send state employees home from work early Wednesday, depending upon the weather forecast.

State Police Col. Brian Meraviglia said motorists who need to be on the road during the snow should take extra precautions.

“Because of the impending weather, please allow yourself more time if you have to travel,” he said. “Make sure your car is ready — gasoline, wiper blades are in good shape. Make sure everything is working on your car. Use your headlights if the weather requires it. Excessive distance — keep your distance from cars. Particularly because of the snow it’s going to take you a lot further to stop your car . . . And slow down. We’re all in a hurry. Take the extra few minutes.”

The snowstorm also coincides with the launch of an annual law enforcement effort to curb drunk driving over the Thanksgiving holiday. State and local police will step up DUI enforcement patrols and stops throughout the state. The campaign, called Combined Accident Reduction Effort, begins Tuesday night and lasts until midnight Dec. 1.

Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora Schriro said the campaign was particularly timely this year.

“Several of the days where more people are likely to be drinking and driving are now driving on roads that are clearly going to become very difficult, if not impassable at points,” she said. “We’re going to be out there conducting sobriety checkpoints and roving DUI patrols throughout the holiday weekend to keep you all safe.”