By STEPHEN SINGER
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A nor’easter brought Connecticut its first snowfall of the season along with gusty, potentially damaging winds on Wednesday, only days after Superstorm Sandy knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of customers.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for southwestern Connecticut, with a potential for 4 to 8 inches of snow through late Wednesday night. The weather service had reports of up to 8 inches at Clintonville in northern New Haven County and 6.5 inches in nearby Wallingford. Lesser amounts were reported on the coast, including 5 inches at New Haven and 2 inches at Bridgeport, which was hard hit by Sandy.
Two traffic deaths possibly related to the storm were reported in East Granby, where a car collided with a jackknifed truck, and in Lebanon, where a car overturned.
The state’s biggest power utility, Connecticut Light & Power, said it was sending line workers and tree trimmers back to work, restocking supplies and preparing staging areas for vehicles and heavy equipment. United Illuminating said the efforts it organized in response to last week’s storm would remain in place. At mid-evening, United Illuminating reported about 3,000 customers without power, more than half in Bridgeport. CL&P reported about 1,000 customers offline.
In Milford, officials issued a voluntary evacuation order for people in low-lying areas, but fire Capt. Tom Thornberg said most people in those areas already have gone elsewhere because of flood damage from Sandy. In Fairfield, which was hit hard by Sandy, First Selectman Michael Tetreau urged residents to prepare for flooding in areas that are not typically vulnerable because of the effects of beach erosion.
North winds up to 40 mph and gusts up to 60 mph were forecast for coastal Connecticut, but National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson said the flooding risk would be mitigated by winds that push seas offshore.
No major damage was reported from early evening high tides.
Schools across Connecticut closed early as the storm approached, and utility workers girded themselves for more long days.
Woody Woodruff, a lineman for AT&T, has been working 16-hour days since Sandy hit, replacing utility poles and restringing line.
“You become used to it,” he said. “If you went two days only sleeping three hours a day, you’d be totally dead. But after a week of doing it, I can sneak in an hour here and there sleeping in my truck and, bam, I’m refreshed and revived and ready to go again.”
Woodruff, 42, said people have been generally nice to his crew, though a lot of them express anger with the utility companies.
“People are offering brownies and stuff,” he said. “But they are frustrated with the storm, they say things like, `Last time I was out 10 days; I can’t believe this is happening again.”’
At the height of the Sandy-related outages, more than 625,000 homes and businesses were without power in Connecticut.
United Illuminating spokesman Michael West said the timing of the latest storm is the only bright spot, because equipment and staff are already assembled for the Sandy response.
“If it happened next week, we would not have the resources in place,” he said.
Associated Press writers Pat Eaton-Robb and Michael Melia contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)