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[Updated: 10:08 a.m.] Power Outages Climb to 500,000

Irene's winds continue to batter the state.

This is probably hard to imagine right now, but it’s possible the sun may peek out before today is over.

At least, that’s what some meteorologists are predicting as Irene continues to lash the state and power outages continue to ratchet up in numbers.

CL&P officials say there are more than 400,000 customers without power in the state. United Illuminating has about 100,000 customers out of power this morning. CL&Ps outages have increased dramatically over the morning, when there were 60,000 customers without power.  CL&P officials say they can’t begin restoring power until after Irene passes through the state, which is expected to be in the late afternoon.

Some towns, like Marlborough, East Hampton, Chester and Clinton, are almost completely without power while others, such as Enfield and Suffield, have fewer than 1 percent of homes without electricity.

In Portland, the eastbound lanes of Route 66 are closed because of a tree across the highway.

According to meteorologist Joe Furey Irene is moving at 25 mph and is moving along the Connecticut and New York borders. Furey, in a report this morning on WTIC radio, said thattrack means Irene should be out of the state by day’s end and the sun could even peak out.

The storm’s track indicates the brunt of Irene will hit the state around 11 a.m. That’s exactly when high tide occurs along the Connecticut shoreline, a situation that has state officials concerned about storm surges and unusually high tides in towns along the southwestern portion of Connecticut.

Some 32 towns, most of them along the southwestern coast, are under mandatory evacuation orders. Almost all towns have opened emergency shelters and nearly 2,000 people have checked into shelters, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy reported this morning.

Malloy has banned tractor-trailer truck traffic on Connecticut roadways and he closed the Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways at 7 a.m. today.  He also has ordered all non-essential traffic off state roads and has warned anyone who ventures out in defiance of that order that emergency officials may not be able to help them if they run into trouble.

The Housatonic River, Malloy said, has hit flood stage and officials were expected to open the flood gates on the river. To drop the water level. Malloy, however, has warned that other rivers and streams are expected to flood and could result in flash flooding.

Numerous local roads are closed around the state because of fallen trees and downed power lines.

One person in Prospect was killed this morning, Malloy said, because of downed power lines and Irene is expected to bring even higher winds through the state, some in excess of 60 mph, as she passes out of the state. As a result, power outages are expected to climb throughout the day, state officials said.

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