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    Friday, March 01, 2024

    Updated: Some power outages as towns deal with forecast of high winds, rain

    The region’s police and fire departments “took it hour by hour” as they dealt with a Sunday storm that was expected to bring high winds and heavy rain through Monday morning.

    “So far, nothing major has occurred,” said Groton Town Police Capt. and Emergency Management Director James Bee around 2 p.m, adding the town was “taking it hour by hour.”

    “The town itself ― we are planning for the potential impacts of this storm,” Bee said.

    Around 1 p.m. Sunday, the National Weather Service Prediction Center announced that part of the region, which included Preston and Norwich, could be in for a mix of prolonged rainfall and high rainfall rates that could result in 5 to 7 inches of rainfall. Residents in those areas were advised to watch out for flash floods.

    Later Sunday, the service issued flood watches for New London County at 3:06 p.m., a high wind warning for the southern half of the county and wind advisory for the northern half, all of which lasted until 11 a.m. Monday.

    Bee said the Groton department was staffing extra officers and dispatchers on duty until 8 a.m. Monday, and that he would keep the town manager and public works department updated with information about the storm.

    As with any weather-impacted event, Bee said that the department would also work with energy provider Eversource to help clear power outages, and the Red Cross and Ledge Light Health District to help people find shelter should the storm get worse.

    The town has an emergency operations plan, he added, and would follow the plan “should anything catastrophic happen.”

    “I’m kind of hoping it’s not as bad as they say, but we have to prepare for the worst,” Bee said.

    New London Fire Chief Thomas Curcio said he had notified Mayor Michael Passero as early as last weekend about the impending storm. The department has been in contact with state officials and representatives for Eversource since then, he added.

    Curcio said the department was staffing additional firefighters Sunday evening to “handle any flooded basements and to respond to any report of wires down” and that the city’s emergency operations center staff would be in at 6 a.m. Monday to partially activate the center.

    “We’re staffed with 16 on duty and it looks like we’re prepared for everything,” Curcio said.

    The city’s public works department is standing by with barricades and police were ready to block off roads if necessary, he added.

    Norwich police Lt. Nicholas Rankin said the city’s emergency operations center was not open as of 6:30 p.m. He added that Norwich Public Utilities had a tree and line crew on standby to deal with downed trees or wires.

    As of 2:45 p.m. Sunday, local weather watcher Paul Nunes, who operates three weather stations at his home in the Fort Trumbull area of New London and contributes the data directly to the National Weather Service, had clocked a high wind speed of 16 mph, but said he had seen data that there had been gusts of “25 to 30 miles per hour in Groton.”

    Sunday afternoon, Waterford First Selectman Rob Brule announced the town would postpone Monday’s trash and recycling collection “due to the possibility of high winds and localized flooding in the forecast.”

    Monday’s scheduled route for collection will occur Tuesday, he added.

    Power outages affected several towns in the area.

    Montville and Colchester combined for more than 1,000 customers without power by early Monday.

    By 1 a.m. Monday, Eversource reported 5,543, or 0.42% of its Connecticut customers, without power.

    According to Eversource, Colchester had 146 customers without power, Montville had 909, Salem 84, Griswold 24, Ledyard 31 and Lyme 17.

    Nunes predicted the brunt of the storm was expected to hit in the overnight hours.

    “In my opinion, the highest winds we’ll be getting today will not kick in until 9 to 3 (Monday) morning,” Nunes said, adding he didn’t think winds would “get over 60 mph winds in Groton,” but that he saw the potential for 55 to 58 mph winds there.

    “There’s a lot at play because there’s a lot of energy in this,” Nunes said of the storm, which had brought tropical conditions all the way up from Florida.

    Nunes, who by that point had collected 0.44 inches of rain, said New London could receive 2 inches of rain, Norwich 5, and that conditions were right for lightning.

    “Significant small river and stream flooding is possible if rainfall totals reach or exceed 5 inches,” the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security announced in a tweet at 4:01 p.m. Sunday. “In addition, winds could gust to 60 mph in coastal areas of eastern CT. Stay weather aware and listen to your local officials.”

    d.drainville@theday.com

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