Winds picking up Wednesday night as temperatures drop

The National Weather Service has issued high-wind warnings for all of Connecticut and southern New England from Wednesday evening to Thursday morning. A flash-flood watch was also issued for Fairfield County.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday southwest wind gusts across the state ranged from 20-25 mph in the lower elevations and up to 35 mph above 1,000 feet.  At 5:30 p.m., CL&P and United Illuminating were reporting 81 power outages.

“A very strong cold front currently located along a line through central Pennsylvania and New York is forecast to continue to move to the east and through New England overnight tonight between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Thursday morning,” the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security wrote in a message to Connecticut town leaders. “The front is very likely to be accompanied by strong winds and heavy rains as well as a few thunderstorms.”

The following is a detailed forecast based on the current GFS and NAM models:

“This evening, heavier rain moving into the state from the west around 7 p.m. with increasing south and southwest winds sustained at 10-20 mph early increasing to 25-35 mph with gusts to 55 mph by midnight. Overnight, the period of strongest winds and heaviest rains currently appears to be from midnight to 4 a.m. with one to two inches of rain and winds sustained at 30-40 mph gusting to 60-65 mph at times. The highest wind gusts can be expected along the coast and also in the higher elevations inland.

“Slightly higher wind gusts are possible if any thunderstorms move through the state with the cold front. Minor coastal flooding may also occur at the time of high tide at 2 a.m. in western Long Island Sound primarily from wave action associated with the strong winds.”

Thursday morning, strong winds around daybreak are forecast to shift to the west by 9 a.m. and continue gusting to around 40 mph through the morning and into the afternoon. Gusts to 50 mph are possible in the higher elevations.

Temperatures are expected to quickly drop from the mid-50s early in the morning Thursday into the mid-30s by Thursday evening.

The strong winds combined with heavy rain are expected to result in a minor to moderate number of power outages especially along the coast and in the higher elevations. “Overnight travel may be impacted especially for high profile vehicles on exposed roads and bridges,” according to the state. “The heavy rain may result in locally moderate urban flooding as a result of snowmelt and frozen sub-soils that will cause the rain and snowmelt to runoff rapidly into storm drains and small streams. One or two ice jams and/or mudslides may occur as a result of the heavy rain and rapid rises in streams. A few large rivers could approach flood stage in the unlikely event that three inches or more of rain occurs in any areas.

“Residents experiencing power outages that last into early Friday morning may see additional issues with frozen pipes.  The temperatures overnight Thursday and into Friday will be at or just below freezing in many locations. The overall impact of this event is still expected to be moderate for wind impacts and minor to moderate for flooding impacts. Towns should report any significant damage to their DEMHS Regional Office as time permits.

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