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Nor'easter threatens outages

By Sasha Goldstein

Publication: theday.com

Published November 07. 2012 3:00PM   Updated November 08. 2012 12:43PM
Tim Cook/The Day
Motorists in Ledyard Center make their way through snow kicked up by a nor'easter as it hits Connecticut Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012.
On heels of Hurricane Sandy, wind gusts, rain and snow sweep region

Days after power was restored to most Connecticut Light & Power customers following Hurricane Sandy, Wednesday's nor'easter once again caused regional outages.

Some who had been left without power last week were almost certainly hit again as rain, snow and wind gusts over 55 miles per hour slammed into the coast.

As of 9:30 p.m., about 125 CL&P customers each in Lyme and East Lyme were in the dark, as were 87 in Ledyard; 33 in New London; and around 15 each in Salem and Stonington. All those areas were hard-hit last week, and many residents regained electricity just this past weekend. Statewide, close to 4,000 customers were without power, less than 1 percent of the company's 1.2 million customers.

Earlier Wednesday, more than 2,000 of the utility's Montville customers were without power, according to the company's outage map. A tree that fell on power lines at Black Ash and Old Colchester roads caused a brief electrical fire that was responsible for the power outage there.

Raymond Occhialini, the town's fire marshal and emergency management director, said Old Colchester Road was closed up to Adamo Avenue for several hours. A utility crew arrived on scene around 1 p.m. to address the issue.

Occhialini was hopeful the repairs that crews made during Hurricane Sandy would hold up during the nor'easter, which was forecast to fizzle out by early this morning.

"I think we're going to luck out," he said. "I think it's going to be the other end of the state that gets slammed with snow."

CL&P spokesman Mitch Gross said 2,300 outside line workers and 1,300 tree workers remain in the state and are standing by because of the threat of this latest storm.

"We have sufficient resources, many line and tree workers here, and we're prepared, we're very well prepared, for any possible problems from the nor'easter," Gross said.

Snowflakes began to mix with the rain by early afternoon across much of southeastern Connecticut. Shoreline towns were forecast to get anywhere from none to up to 2 inches of snow, said Quincy Vagell, a Storm Team 8 meteorologist, while Norwich and towns farther inland could get 1 to 3 inches of snow. Other areas of the state, including Meriden and Waterbury, had 5 inches by around 4:15 p.m., he said, and could end up with more than 8 inches by the time the storm leaves the state early today.

"The snow moved in, came down quickly and the snow caused evaporational cooling, which cooled the atmosphere," Vagell said. "The storm stalled, causing more precipitation and more snow. The storm itself did what we thought it would, but the band stalled on inland Connecticut. There will be less (accumulation) as you go east."

Vagell said winds already had gusted over 40 miles per hour and could surpass 55 miles per hour. Those winds will max out by 3 a.m. today, he said.

"On the shoreline, there are still lots of leaves on trees, the wet snow," Vagell said. "It's another reason we could get more power outages."

A mixture of snow and sleet fell in Norwich for much of the afternoon, with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark and winds gusting. Snow stuck to lawns and cold surfaces. Norwich police reported "the usual fender-benders" on slick roads, but no major crashes.

In Old Saybrook, where Sandy wreaked havoc on homes, beaches and trees, Fire Chief J.T. Dunn said the department was ready for anything. As high tide approached, Dunn said, the water did not appear to be too high, and he did not expect flooding problems.

In Stonington, where rain, wind and a few wet snowflakes started to fall in the afternoon, the town kept its Emergency Operations Center open in case it was needed during the storm. No flooding had been reported.

People driving over Interstate 95's Gold Star Bridge reported windy conditions.

In Ledyard, snow continued to fall around 6 p.m., sticking to parked cars and covering the grass. With temperatures hovering right around freezing, the roads were wet but not yet slippery.

Staff writers Claire Bessette, Kathleen Edgecomb, Jeffrey A. Johnson and Joe Wojtas contributed to this report.

s.goldstein@theday.com

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