Local officials prepare for Hurricane Jose, though impact expected to be minor

Sloan Danenhower attaches a front lashing chain connection, connected to an anchor in the sand, to one of the pipes while working to install a Wave Muffler on the beach of the Old Lyme Beach Club on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017.  Danenhower designed the six pipe portable storm wave/surge asset protection device and is setting the system up in preparation for Hurricane Jose.  Later Danenhower worked to attach the rear anchor 5/16' stainless steel wires to the pipes.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Sloan Danenhower attaches a front lashing chain connection, connected to an anchor in the sand, to one of the pipes while working to install a Wave Muffler on the beach of the Old Lyme Beach Club on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017. Danenhower designed the six pipe portable storm wave/surge asset protection device and is setting the system up in preparation for Hurricane Jose. Later Danenhower worked to attach the rear anchor 5/16" stainless steel wires to the pipes. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Forecasting northeast wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour and as much as 1.5 inches of rain, meteorologist Gary Lessor believes the impact of Hurricane Jose on Southeastern Connecticut will be "not that bad."

Still, local municipalities and businesses are taking precautions.

As of Monday evening, the maximum sustained winds for Hurricane Jose were 75 miles per hour and the hurricane, located off North Carolina, was moving north at 10 miles per hour.

"The storm is going to be passing to the south and the east of New England as we go through Tuesday and Wednesday," said Lessor, the assistant to the director of meteorological studies at Western Connecticut State University. "It is expected to kind of maintain its strength, although it will slowly weaken to tropical storm status as it gets close to New England."

The coastal region of southeastern Connecticut is under tropical storm watch, while a tropical storm warning is in effect from Watch Hill, R.I. to Hull, Mass., including Block Island, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.

According to the National Weather Service, a watch means tropical-storm conditions and sustained winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour are possible within 48 hours, while a warning means such conditions are expected within 36 hours.

Lessor expects rain to begin in the area between 3 and 6 a.m. on Tuesday and last until Wednesday afternoon, "assuming that Jose doesn't vary on its track from what's currently anticipated."

He's looking at isolated power outages, considering wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour are possible. For New London, he predicts minor coastal flooding.

One man's protection against storm surges

For Old Lyme resident Sloan Danenhower, the storm is a chance for him to deploy the "Wave Muffler" — a storm surge asset protection device he has been working on for three years — at Old Lyme Beach Club.

He spent a few hours getting the 120 feet of high-density polyethylene drainage pipe set up on Monday afternoon.

"It turns a 4-foot wave into a 1-foot wave," Danenhower explained. The device has 13 anchors in the front and seven in the back, and the pipe is parallel to the incoming wave, allowing water to come out each pipe's ends.

Danenhower is a member of Old Lyme Beach Club, which purchased the Wave Muffler from him. He declined to state the cost, saying this was "the first real setup that I've done at any length" and the cost will come down.

If created for larger orders, Danenhower is looking at a cost of $350 per foot, which he said is a better price than building a groin or breakwater.

Danenhower, a tugboat captain in New York, got design and data-processing help from John Roberge of Roberge Associates Coastal Engineers in Stratford.

They did 32 tests with scaled pieces of pipe at the University of Rhode Island, Danenhower said, and they're looking into doing more research at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J.

Danenhower said the temporary installation of the Wave Muffler, which is patented, got approval from the Town of Old Lyme.

How are local cities and towns preparing?

Old Lyme Emergency Management Director David Roberge sent weather information to the town's beach associations and posted storm information on Facebook and Twitter.

The towns of Old Lyme and Lyme both posted messages on their websites, advising people to secure patio furniture, assemble an emergency kit, charge electronics, maintain a full tank of gas and clear clogged gutters.

East Lyme Public Safety Director Richard Morris said town department heads are monitoring the situation. He like, other officials, has pointed out that since Superstorm Sandy, Eversource has trimmed trees in the region and installed new poles.

In Stonington, First Selectman Rob Simmons said public works crews opened and closed the Pawcatuck dike system Monday to make sure the gates and pumps are working correctly. He said the town will monitor several ponds and flood-prone areas, such as the Toll Brothers subdivision on Pequot Trail and the Fourth District Voting Hall in Mystic.

Groton City Mayor Keith Hedrick noted that the storm two weeks ago "was totally unexpected, and it caused a little damage, so we want to make sure we're okay here. We do have crews ready. We have police, fire, public works and Groton Utilities ready."

Joe Sastre, director of emergency management for the Town of Groton, said the town's emergency center will have an extra person working Tuesday night through Wednesday morning.

Electric Boat spokeswoman Liz Power said the company has not taken any precautionary measures but is monitoring the storm, because it does have a lot of people who work outside, along with equipment.

In Norwich, public works crews spent Monday cleaning storm water catch basins and sharpening chainsaw blades, and Norwich Public Utilities Manager John Bilda said the four NPU linemen who went to Florida to assist with Hurricane Irma cleanup have been recalled.

In New London, Ferry Slip dockominium yard manager Erik Klockars told boaters to double up their lines. He is uncertain what will happen but is more concerned about the potential later impact of Hurricane Maria.

Further north in New London Monday, the Grande Mariner cruise ship docked at the Custom House Pier, a change of plans for a 15-day trip that started in Chicago and was supposed to end in Warren, R.I.

Peter DiMarco, port captain for Blount Small Ship Adventures, explained: "The next trip starts in New York, so if we went to Warren there was a good change we might not be able to get to New York because of the sea conditions of the storm, so we wanted to be precautionary."

The decision cut the trip about seven hours short for its 74 passengers, he said. They were then bused to T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I., as per the original plan.

Staff writers Kimberly Drelich, Claire Bessette and Joe Wojtas contributed to this report

The cruise ship Grande Mariner docked at Custom House Pier in New London, Monday, September 18, 2017. The vessel, one of two in the fleet of the Warren, RI company Blount Small Ship Adventures, came in to New London to disembark passengers when rough seas due to Hurricane Jose made entry to Narragansett Bay too hazardous. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
The cruise ship Grande Mariner docked at Custom House Pier in New London, Monday, September 18, 2017. The vessel, one of two in the fleet of the Warren, RI company Blount Small Ship Adventures, came in to New London to disembark passengers when rough seas due to Hurricane Jose made entry to Narragansett Bay too hazardous. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments