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Just what we all needed: Nor'easter is on the way

By Judy Benson

Published November 06. 2012 4:00AM   Updated November 07. 2012 1:37AM
Wind and rain won't be as bad as Sandy

Don't put those flashlights and generators away just yet.

A nor'easter is expected to bring 1 to 2 inches of rain, high winds and moderate-to-minor coastal flooding to this storm-weary region Wednesday and Thursday. Outages from downed trees and fallen lines are again a possibility, just as many local residents are starting to settle back in to the comforts and convenience of electrified homes after multiple days without power due to Hurricane Sandy.

"Learn from the last storm. The more you can prepare the more comfortable you'll be," said David Roberge, emergency management director for Old Lyme, one of the area towns hardest hit by Sandy. Although the coming storm isn't expected to be nearly as severe as last week's, he advised residents to have extra blankets, batteries and other supplies ready. Temperatures are expected to be in the 30s and 40s on Wednesday and Thursday. The trailer opened by the town last week where residents without power can get showers won't be put away just yet, Roberge added.

In preparation, Connecticut Light & Power has decided to keep supplemental repair crews it brought in for the hurricane on hand until after the nor'easter, spokesman Frank Poirot said Monday.

The utility is also deploying about 1,600 tree workers out ahead of the storm to pre-emptively trim any weakened limbs and leaning trunks that could be vulnerable in the coming storm, he said.

"We're watching the weather very closely," he said.

David Stark, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the peak of the storm is expected to be Wednesday night into early Thursday. He also cautioned that the forecast could change dramatically over the next 24 hours.

"There's still a lot of uncertainty," he said. "But it doesn't look like this will be like what we saw with Sandy."

As of 4 p.m. Monday, the weather service forecast sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph and gusts that could reach as high as 65 mph during the nor'easter. A high-wind watch has been issued for Wednesday morning until late Wednesday night, and a coastal flood watch was issued for Wednesday afternoon to Thursday morning.

Storm surge is expected to be 2½ to 4½ feet above normal high tide at 4 a.m. Thursday, Stark said. Unlike Sandy, which arrived during a full moon when tides were at their peak, the nor'easter is arriving toward the opposite end of the lunar cycle, he noted.

Richard Morris, emergency management director for East Lyme, said he's monitoring the weather closely and will decide based on today's forecast from the National Weather Service whether the town would need to issue any evacuation orders or take other actions.

"We're prepared to ramp back up and do whatever we need to do," he said.

Neighborhoods such as Crescent Beach and Oak Grove with heavy damage from the storm have made significant progress toward cleaning up, he said, and appear ready to withstand the nor'easter.

"The owners have done the very best they can to secure their properties with tarp or plywood," Morris said.

Emergency preparedness officials are advising homeowners to take time today to clean yards of any fallen limbs and lingering storm debris that could become airborne in high winds, and trim any tree limbs on their property that could threaten power lines.

"But it should be anywhere near as bad as what we just went through," said Joe Sastre, emergency management director for Groton.

New London's emergency management director, Reid Burdick, asked owners of private beaches to remove debris that was piled on the waterfront by Hurricane Sandy ahead of the nor'easter. The coming storm surge is likely to sweep all the broken boards, tires and other debris off one beach and deposit it on another.

j.benson@theday.com

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