In his last of the day Saturday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said a late-breaking weather development could increase the amount of rainfall and wind gusts Hurricane Irene inflicts on Connecticut when it touches down sometime tomorrow.
“Because of some unusual weather conditions beyond the ones that we’re experiencing, we might have very heavy winds after the storm starts to move through an area,” Malloy told a group of reporters Saturday evening at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Hartford. “They will come from a different direction. It has to do with different weather systems meeting up, and we might have just as high wind conditions after the storm as we experienced during the storm.”
Malloy said that current predictions, which he had only just received Saturday evening from federal alerts, now called for Irene to be “squeezed” by another system moving in from the west.
“What you’re going to see is air rushed between the two systems in a southerly direction, and it’s caused by two separate air systems conflicting,” he said. “… Essentially it’s going to be a lot of wind late in the day with gusts that would equal hurricane gusts.”
Malloy also took the opportunity to run down the state’s preparations for the storm one last time.
He said parts of Connecticut would begin to experience tropical strength wind gusts around 10 p.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday evening, and that by 8 a.m. Sunday morning hurricane force winds were expected to be in effect. Malloy said current forecasts placed the eye of the storm passing through the state anywhere from 11 a.m. to sometime mid-afternoon Sunday.
“That is an extremely slow moving hurricane or tropical storm,” Malloy said. “Therefore it is going to dump a lot of water. And we are seeing increases in the estimates of the amount of water that will fall during this storm.”
Malloy said that 28 municipalities throughout the state had issued evacuation orders, while 17 had declared states of emergency. He said that by Sunday morning 500 National Guard troops would be deployed throughout Connecticut and more than 1,100 specialized licensed adjusters were in place for recovery efforts.
“FEMA resources and money are now in place,” Malloy said. “I just signed the agreement with FEMA concerning the dispensing of federal funds.”
Malloy said that all air, train and bus services had been suspended as of Saturday evening, and that he was closely monitoring the Wilbur Cross and Merritt parkways and expected to have to close those roads by midnight Saturday due to heavy winds; the governor has stated that travel on those roadways would be unsafe during hurricane or tropical storm conditions because vegetation along those parkways is so close to the road.
“We have pre-stationed apparatus to close those roads and we’re ready to do it,” Malloy said.
If Irene is as severe as forecasted, Malloy said he expected numerous road closings throughout the day Sunday.
“Let’s be honest, we expect a lot of road closings, and that will depend on individual conditions,” he said.
Malloy said he planned to notify all non-essential state employees Sunday afternoon about whether they should report to work on Monday, and that he would next brief the media on the status of the storm at 7 a.m. Sunday morning
He said that Connecticut residents seeking information about the storm or state closings could do so by typing ct.gov/irene into their web browsers or by calling 2-1-1.