Hurricane Sandy: Storm Reaches Category 2, Could Hit New England Hard

Could Connecticut again get whalloped by a major October storm?

On the eve of the first anniversary of a the state once again is warily watching a hurricane churning up the East Coast and utility officials are already preparing for a possible hit.

The Carribean-born Hurricane Sandy made landfall over Cuba this morning as a Category 2 hurricane, bringing with sustained winds of 105 mph. Forecasters predict the current track will take Sandy over the Bahamas before it turns north.

From there computer models differ on where Sandy will go. One takes it northeast and out to sea over the Atlantic. But another, more reliable model, says Sandy will make landfall somewhere near Delaware, the National Weather Service says in its most recent update on the storm Thursday morning.

One meteorologist is predicting that Sandy will become the "perfect storm" that will slam New England.

The most recent models of the storm, says Weather Underground forecaster Jeff Masters, "portray an increased risk to the U.S. and Canadian East Coasts for early next week. The GFS model, which had been showing that Sandy would head to the northeast out to sea, now has changed its tune, and predicts that Sandy will double back and hit Maine on Tuesday evening.

"An extra set of balloon-borne radiosondes is going to be launched at 2 p.m. (today) all across the U.S., which should help tomorrow evening's model runs make better forecasts of where Sandy might go. Extra radiosondes will be launched every 6 hours through Saturday afternoon."

If Sandy does hit New England, one major difference between this storm and last year's is Sandy is expected to bring rain and not snow. Forecasts for West Hartford and the Farmington Valley from the National Weather Service warn that the region "could either see a close pass or a direct hit from late Monday to Tuesday and behond. Impacts may include high seas and storm surge and ... winds gusts potentially reaching hurricane force causing downed trees and power lines as well as heavy rainfall resulting in interior flooding."

Officials at CL&P and United Illuminating, the state's two major electric suppliers, are already taking steps to prepare for the worst and have begun contacting outside contractors who could help restore power to customers if Sandy wreaks havoc in Connecticut, according to a report today in the Hartford Courant.

The utilities came under harsh criticism last year after two storms, Tropical Storm Irene in late August and an October Nor'easter, each cut power to hundreds of thousands of utility customers throughout the state, some of whom went without electricity for more than a week.

CL&P took the brunt of much of that criticism and the backlash eventually led to the resignation of its chief executive.


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