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Nor'easter bears down on state with 'multiple hazards'

Updated 10:27 pm, Wednesday, December 26, 2012

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  • Eight-year-old Rebecca DePietro, of Stratford, braces herself against the cold wind as she leaves a restaurant with her family Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 in Stratford, Conn. Photo: Autumn Driscoll / Connecticut Post

    Eight-year-old Rebecca DePietro, of Stratford, braces herself against the cold wind as she leaves a restaurant with her family Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 in Stratford, Conn.

    Photo: Autumn Driscoll

 

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BRIDGEPORT -- High winds, rain, ice, snow, high water -- the post-Christmas storm that churned through southern New England had it all.

State and local police responded to numerous fender-benders and at least one rollover in Fairfield Wednesday evening as heavy snowfall on wet streets created icy conditions. However, no one was seriously injured, police said.

The storm had a "multitude of hazards," said Tim Morrin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Upton, N.Y., including high winds, icing conditions and coastal flooding. There's a high-wind warning that's in place until 6 a.m. Thursday.

Along with the snow, sleet, rain and winds, there also was a higher-than-normal high tide Wednesday night.

"Although we associate storm surge with hurricanes, it can occur with any low-pressure system," said Shaun Tanner, head of meteorological operations at Weather Underground.

By midnight Wednesday, precipitation changed to all rain as warm air from the south moved in. But Tanner said that winds would remain hazardous into the morning hours.

About 2 to 3 inches of snow fell on shoreline communities before precipitation change to sleet and rain.

Scott Appleby, Bridgeport's director of emergency operations, said that at the height of the storm Wednesday evening there were as many as eight minor car crashes that cops were responding to at the same time. Meanwhile, DPW crews were sanding and plowing streets as quickly as possible.

State Police also reported numerous minor crashes on Interstate 95. Farther north, Interstate 84 was closed in both directions for a time near the New York state line at about 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Mayor Benjamin Blake, of Milford, said residents in low-lying coastal neighborhoods were alerted with the city's reverse emergency phone notification system Wednesday night, urging them to move cars to higher ground and to take other precautions.

"The DPW was busy cleaning out critical storm drains today," he said on Wednesday, "and police and fire department personnel will be patrolling coastal areas tonight."

Marc Dillon, chief of staff for Stratford Mayor John Harkins, said that DPW crews there had pre-treated streets, and that town officials monitored rising waters through the night.

The National Weather Service posted a flood warning Wednesday night for the coastline between Harrison, N.Y., and Guilford. A second flood warning was also issued for Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Thursday morning high tide, at about 10:20 along the coast of southwestern Connecticut, could be higher than usual, experts say, as was the Wednesday night high tide. Precipitation was falling from Lake Michigan to Cape Cod and from Vermont to West Virginia Wednesday night.

This was the same storm that caused blizzard-like conditions over a swath of the Midwest on Christmas Day. A foot of snow fell in parts of Indiana, while severe thunderstorms disrupted Christmas for scores in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, where several tornadoes were reported.

Although Friday will be dry and sunny, snow could return Saturday and Saturday night, the National Weather Service said.

jburgeson@ctpost.com; 203-330-6403; http://twitter.com/johnburgeson