Friday, 8:30 a.m. UPDATE — At 8:00 AM the center of Hurricane Sandy was located near 26.4 North 76.9 West (480 Miles South Southeast of Charleston, South Carolina), reports the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. Hurricane Sandy has maximum sustained winds of 80 MPH and is moving to the Northwest at 10 MPH. Sandy is currently a Category I Hurricane.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is forecasting that Sandy will continue in a generally Northward direction for the next 24 hours as the storm moves out over open water off the Southeast U.S. Coast. Sandy is then forecast to turn to the North Northeast, pick up some speed and move to a position approximately 125 Miles East of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina by 2:00 AM Monday Morning. Sandy is then forecast to intensify and grow in size as the storm begins to interact with an approaching winter type storm system. Sandy is forecast to move Northwest to a position just off the southern tip of New Jersey by 2:00 AM Tuesday morning.
On this track Connecticut would be on the stronger winds side of the storm with the potential for strong winds, heavy rain, coastal and inland flooding. This storm is still 3 days from Connecticut and it is still too early for precise impacts to be forecasted. The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection continue to monitor the latest forecasts and will issue another update on Sandy this morning at 11:15 AM.
Thursday — With early predictions that Hurricane Sandy could hit Connecticut, Ridgefield emergency planners are keeping an eye on the storm system. CL&P is reportedly bracing for impact, and state officials are urging residents to pay attention to the forecast.
“Before any storm event we monitor special briefings from NWS Upton and run our pre-storm check list,” wrote Dick Aarons, Ridgefield Deputy Director of Emergency Management in an email Thursday to The Press. “That includes making sure that the Emergency Operations Center is fully functional — all its radios, computers, etc., are up and working and shelter supplies are in place. Various town departments review their own storm checklists….
The possibility that Sandy might hit Connecticut late this weekend or early next weekend has been increasing.
“NWS Upton is now predicting with greater certainty that Ridgefield and the entire New Jersey, New York, Connecticut region will be subject to heavy rains and winds for the Sunday evening to Tuesday mid-day period. While there is still a chance that the storm will miss us, that chance is growing smaller with each forecast update. So … prepare for 4-to-8 inches of rain; winds over 39 MPH and the possibility of utility interruptions.”
“There is increasing confidence that the tri-state area will feel the impacts of a major coastal storm late this weekend into early next week,” the National Weather Service said in a hazardous weather outlook statement issued Thursday morning. “This includes the potential for heavy rainfall, high winds, coastal flooding, and beach erosion. The specific impacts will ultimately depend on the eventual track and evolution of Tropical Cyclone Sandy as it interacts with deepening upper level low pressure system approaching the East Coast.”
Tropical storm warnings and watches are in effect for much of Florida by Thursday morning when Sandy was expected to move from Cuba to near or over the central Bahamas later Thursday and Thursday night and move near or over the northwestern Bahamas on Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Maximum sustained winds are near 105 mph — with higher gusts, making it a Category 2 hurricane, according to the center.
The most recent forecasts show the hurricane moving northeast of Florida before curving back along the East Coast, toward North Carolina.
According to forecast models, the storm could first be felt in Northeast late Sunday or Monday. The center of the large storm is not expected near Connecticut until late Tuesday — if at all.
“Just as the state is monitoring and preparing, the public should do the same,” said Governor Dannel Malloy. “Some models predict that Sandy may move onshore somewhere in New England early next week. Although we are not certain the storm will impact the state, we need to be prepared. That means everyone, especially the state’s utility companies.”
The state Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) is monitoring this storm very closely and is prepared to coordinate any potential state response. DEMHS is participating in National Weather Service conference calls to get the latest information on the storms track and is sending out regular updates to all municipalities and tribal nations.
“Although hurricanes are unpredictable, this storm has the potential to impact Connecticut and we need to be prepared,” said DEMHS Deputy Commissioner William P. Shea. “Because a shift in the track of the hurricane of just a few miles can have a significant impact on the state, it is important to stay informed by listening to TV and radio and heed the warnings of public safety officials.”
The utility that took a public relations beating after last year’s storm responses announced Thursday it was making emergency preparations.
“We’re closely monitoring weather forecasts and preparing for high winds and heavy rain that can devastate the electric system and cause power outages,” said Bill Quinlan, CL&P Senior Vice President of Emergency Preparedness. The past year has been all about improving storm response, and we stand ready to respond as quickly and safely as possible. While we hope for the best, we all need to prepare for the worst.”
Town and state officials urge residents to put together emergency kits with some basics.
The state offers the following checklists for building a kit and being prepared for a disaster:
Basic Emergency Supply Kit
- One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
- A whistle to signal for help
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can opener
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger.
Family Emergency Plan
- Identify an out-of town contact. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
- Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cell phone, coins, or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to get a hold of someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
- Teach family members how to use text messaging. Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
- Subscribe to alert services. Many communities/states now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about severe weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. In Connecticut, go to www.ct.gov/ctalert to register for alerts.
FEMA has information on building a preparedness kit as well at www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.