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NEWS ALERT: Sandy strengthens as it heads toward Connecticut

Hurricane Sandy

As Hurricane Sandy gets closer, forecasters are getting more sure that southwest Connecticut is in the storm’s path, as seen in this graphic released by the National Hurricane Center on Sunday morning at 8 a.m.

Sandy, which was reduced to a tropical storm overnight, strengthened Saturday morning back into a hurricane. Its predicted path continues to include southwest Connecticut, where a coastal flood watch was issued for Sunday evening through late Monday night.

“The tri-state area will likely feel the impacts of a dangerous coastal storm Sunday evening through the middle of the next week,” stated a National Weather Service  hazardous weather outlook issued Saturday morning. “This includes the likelihood for heavy rainfall and result in significant urban, small stream and river flooding, high winds causing widespread downing of trees and powerlines, and significant shoreline impacts from coastal flooding and beach erosion.”

How badly this area is affected still remains to be seen and depends on how Sandy interacts with a low-pressure system approaching the East Coast — which is expected to form what forecasters have dubbed “Frankenstorm.”

Along the Connecticut coasts, flooding could be particularly bad as the storm’s timing will coincide with a full moon. “Persistent strong easterly flow will pile water on top of already higher astronomical high tides due to the full moon, resulting in possible continuing flood stages between high tide cycles,” according to the weather service. “The most prone for widespread moderate flooding will be the western Long Island Sound shorelines.”

The center of Hurricane Sandy was off the coast of northern Florida at 8 a.m. Saturday. According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm is moving north-northwest at 10 mph with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. “This motion is expected to continue today,” the hurricane center said. “A turn toward the Northeast and an increase in forward speed are expected tonight and Sunday, followed by a turn toward the north Sunday night.”

Sandy is expected to move parallel to the East Coast through the weekend and little change in its strength is forecast over the weekend, according to the hurricane center.

While last night, Sandy’s hurricane-force winds extended 35 miles from its center, this morning the 75 mph winds extend 100 miles from its center while tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 450 miles.

Sandy is expected to leave three to six inches of rain over eastern North Carolina — with isolated totals up to 8 inches possible. As the storm moves north, its rainfall totals along the Eastern Seaboard are expected to grow with four to eight inches over the mid-Atlantic states, including the Delmarva Peninsula — with isolated maximum totals of 12 inches.

Follow Sandy through live interactive maps on the upper right of The Weston Forum’s website.

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