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April showers bring nothing but trouble

Connecticut, USA
Photo: n employee of Leahy's Fuels Inc., helped remove propane tanks from flooded homes Monday at Jensen's Mobile Home Park.

April 17, 2007
The fierce, two-day April nor'easter that acted more like a late-summer tropical storm inundated the greater Danbury region with 5 to 7 inches of rain Sunday and Monday, shutting down roads throughout the region. "I don't think people realize how bad this storm is." The rainfall caused several area rivers - the Housatonic, the Norwalk, the Saugatuck and the Still - to flood. Many of these rivers HAD NOT RUN THIS HIGH FOR DECADES. The storm - which had spawned tornadoes in Texas and snow in the Midwest as it moved east across the United States late last week - was a giant low-pressure system. When the storm system hit the Atlantic Coast it picked up a huge amount of moisture and energy, especially from the warmer Gulf Stream waters, then headed north. In New Hampshire, Vermont and northern New York, the nor'easter was a winter storm in spring, bringing them 1 to 2 feet of snow. More southerly, it was rain. New York City received 7.81 inches of rain in Central Park. The previous RECORD for April 15, set in 1906, was 1.08 inches. In Connecticut, there were two different storms. West of the Connecticut River, there was lots of rain but not severe winds. East of the river, there was less rain, but severe winds that toppled trees, tore down tree limbs and caused power outages Monday. What made this storm stand out was not only its size and its intensity, but also its timing. "To put this in perspective, when you get record rainfalls in places like Boston or Washington, D.C., they're usually set in August or September or October by a hurricane or tropical storm. To have records set by an April storm is VERY UNUSUAL."


VERMONT - they couldn't find the perfect weather word to describe the storm that blew into Rutland early Monday morning, uprooting scores of trees and leaving thousands without power. So the climatologist with the National Weather Service created a new word. "It's a nor'hurricane. It's got the characteristics of a nor'easter without the snow, but it has the characteristics of the rain and wind of a Category One hurricane." A classic nor'easter is accompanied by much lower temperatures than those in Rutland on Sunday night or early Monday morning. Also, the storm doesn't qualify as a hurricane because it didn't have enough warm moisture. "You can't classify it as a nor'easter because you don't have the cold air entrenched in the area. You can't classify it as a hurricane because you don't have enough warm gulf moisture feeding." The storm was basically a combination of the two weather systems. The storm got so strong, with almost a Perfect Storm-like combination of factors that came together. "You got an intense low pressure, that's down on Long Island (N.Y.) Sound. You've got a high pressure system in the Canadian Maritimes, both of them are coming closer together." The low pressure winds revolve in a counterclockwise direction and high pressure winds revolve clockwise. "The closer two intense opposite pressure areas are to each other, the faster the winds exchange between the two, because while one is producing the other is gaining. They are both revolving - you've got a huge amount of exchange of air between them in the form of wind. Basically, it's because of the intensity of that low-pressure area. It was a pretty intense low pressure area." Photo: A garage behind a home at 86 Killington Ave. was crushed under a tree that fell during Monday’s storm that swept through Rutland and caused extensive damage in the city.

MASSACHUSETTS' Emergency Management Agency remains activated as the nor'easter that battered the region over the last couple of days lingers off the coast. A number of rivers in Massachusetts have swelled to near flood stage and could continue to rise over the next day or two. With the storm still spinning offshore, the National Weather Service extended its coastal flood warning on Tuesday through at least the next two high tide periods - the one coming up at midday and the one that will occur around midnight. Forecasters say seas could build to near 20 feet as the storm lingers and astronomical tides approach their seasonal peak.

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