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High Winds Friday Could Knock Out Power

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Warning: Tree branches may come tumbling down onto streets and power lines in Fairfield County on Friday for the third time in two months.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the power companies are cautioning residents across Connecticut that strong winds predicted for Friday by the National Weather Service could bring down already damaged trees and limbs weakened from Hurricane Irene and the October nor'easter.

More people — nearly 900,000 customers — lost power during the pre-Halloween snow and ice storm than ever before in Connecticut. Now, just when the power has been restored, winds of up to 40 mph could cause outages again.

"The weather forecast is calling for winds of 15-30 mph with locally higher gusts," Malloy said in a statement. "Normally, these types of winds would not be of concern, but with the condition of trees following the October snowstorm, they are likely to have some impact. And I'm urging residents to take precaution if they're planning to be outside."

The weather forecast calls for winds building from early Friday, peaking late in the afternoon and then subsiding by evening. Temperatures are expected to drop into the upper 20s by Saturday morning.

The governor has directed the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security to discuss the forecast – and the planned response to any power outages that may occur – with United Illuminating and Connecticut Light & Power and urge them to take the proper precautions.

"Now that power is back on across our state, we expect the utility companies will be extra vigilant about responding to any new outages," Malloy said.

Rain and wind Thursday knocked out power to 8,000 CL&P customers, most in the northern part of the state, company spokesman Mitch Gross said.

"We're working on scattered outages (Thursday), and we can't predict what will happen Friday," Gross said. "But obviously there was a great deal of damage from this latest storm that left the ground saturated and many trees damaged, so high winds could cause more problems."

When asked whether work crews were preparing for new outages, Gross said, "They haven't stopped working since the storm two weeks ago."

CL&P is patrolling all 17,000 miles of its power lines to identify storm-damaged trees that pose a threat to public safety and the electrical system, Gross said.

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