Heavy Winds, Rain Batter Tri-State

Expect a messy and potentially dangerous commute on Friday

By Brian Thompson, Hasani Gittens and Andrew Siff
|  Thursday, Sep 30, 2010  |  Updated 11:45 PM EDT
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With many homeowners still recovering from stormy weather, more high winds seem like adding insult to injury. <a title=Brian Thompson reports." />

With many homeowners still recovering from stormy weather, more high winds seem like adding insult to injury. Brian Thompson reports.

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September 30, 2010 -- Late Afternoon Storm Update

From meteorologist Raphael Miranda.
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Heavy rains, strong winds and rough surf have moved into the Tri-State as a tropical depression moves up the Atlantic Coast.

Most of New Jersey and parts of New York are under a flood watch. High surf and wind advisories are also in effect.

Forecasters say most of New Jersey will be soaked as the second phase of a major East Coast storm makes its way northward. The National Weather Service is predicting more widespread rain in the overnight hours hitting New York and Connecticut as well.

Rainfall totals could reach 4 inches in some areas before the storm ends on Friday. And that makes street and small-stream flooding likely. The storm is expected to clear the region by Friday afternoon.

Most areas will likely get about 2 to 4 inches of rain, with 6 to 9 inches possible in certain locations.

In Little Falls, N.J., OEM Director Fred Batelli explained that the danger to the neighborhood -- flash flooding.

"If these people get 20 minutes notice it may be a lot," he told NBCNewYork. "It comes up real quick and the reaction time is probably 10 to 15 minutes."

Meanwhile, resident John Reilly wanted to know if the storm drains had been cleaned.

"You know what happened last time these drains were full and we had  rain like this coming in?" Reilly asked. "This neighborhood got devastated."

High wind gusts of up to 45 mph combined with heavy rains will make the storm effects particularly pronounced in coastal areas along Long Island and New Jersey, increasing the risk for beach erosion, but residents in the five boroughs should also be on the watch for urban stream flooding.

As Nancy Glassman stepped off the NJ Transit train in Short Hills Thursday night, she was still thinking about something her son, Noah (yes, Noah) said as the skies opened up in the morning.

"It was raining so hard my son thought it was just too much rain to make it to school," she said.

And yet for many others in New Jersey the first round of rain, and the prediction of a second wave, was welcomed.

"Well, we need the rain, so, duh. No-brainer," said Carl Frederick of Nutley.

The strong winds which whipped into Newark hinted at the heavy rain in the forecast -- rain that should come as a relief to new jersey residents... and reservoirs.

For weeks, the Garden state has been anything but. The hottest summer ever was followed by a bone-dry September, leading to dry lawns, concerns about a drought emergency -- and parched crops. Now, the dog days are gone, and Halloween isn't far behind.

In New York City, the Office of Emergency Management put out a warning urging residents to be cautious as the storm passes over -- especially with trees and limbs weak from the Sept. 16 tornadoes.

"Thousands of trees are still being inspected and assessed throughout the city, both on streets and in parks, and while many have been removed or pruned, many still require care for hanging limbs and wires," OEM said in a statement. "Anticipated storm conditions tomorrow may cause weakened limbs to become dangerous or break. To report new hanging tree limbs, call 311."

Wind gusts of up to 60 mph were expected to build sea swells of 8-13 feet during the day. Wind gusts could cause trees and power lines to fall or snap, setting the stage for a round of potentially massive power outages across the state. Con Edison says it's ready with additional crews available to respond to any power outages.

But there is one potential bright spot: the heavy rains could help replenish reservoir, stream and groundwater levels affected by the hot, dry conditions that persisted all summer. And the skies are expected to clear up by Friday afternoon just in time for the weekend.

The approaching weather system was the latest in a series of nasty weather to hit the state since last winter. Utilities that serve New Jersey said that dealing with the outages caused by strong winds, extreme heat and heavy snow and rains has been costly, but ratepayers won't be asked to foot the bill.

"Our rates are set via a regulatory process, and we have no plans to seek any rate increases," said Ron Marano, a spokesman for Jersey Central Power & Light.

The state's two other major utilities — Public Service Electric & Gas and Atlantic City Electric — also don't plan to seek rate increases.

What's the best way to protect yourself and your family during a storm? Con Ed offers some tips to help weather the possible effects of Mother Nature's wrath:

  • If you see downed electrical wires, don't go near them. Treat all downed wires as if they are live. Never attempt to move them or touch them with any object. Be mindful that downed wires can be hidden from view by snow, tree limbs, leaves or water.
  • Report all downed wires to Con Edison and your local police department immediately. If a power line falls on your car while you’re in it, stay inside the vehicle and wait for emergency personnel.
  • If your power goes out, disconnect or turn off appliances that would otherwise turn on automatically when service is restored.  If several appliances start up at once, the electric circuits may overload.
  • Check to make sure your flashlights and any battery-operated radios or televisions are in working order. Use candles and oil lamps with care. Also, make sure you have a supply of extra batteries. Weather updates and news on restorations of electrical service can be heard on most local radio and television stations.

As always, check back with NBCNewYork for up-to-the-minute weather information. Follow us on Twitter @NBCNewYork,and on Facebook/NBCNewYork, and sign up for breaking news SMS alerts on your phone by texting “NYBREAKING” to 639710.

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