Hurricane Sandy may bring another October mess

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Waves, brought by Hurricane Sandy, crash on a house in the Caribbean Terrace neighborhood in eastern Kingston, Jamaica, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012. Hurricane Sandy pounded Jamaica with heavy rain as it headed for landfall near the country’s most populous city on a track that would carry it across the Caribbean island to Cuba, and a possible threat to Florida. (AP Photo/Collin Reid)
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Even as Jamaica got slammed by Hurricane Sandy on Wednesday, forecasters in Connecticut say there’s a good chance the raging storm might bring some stormy weather here.

The prospect that a powerful tropical storm could strike exactly one year after a historic October snowstorm brought the state to a standstill has meteorologists excited but at the same time urging caution that we’re still a few days out from knowing exactly what Sandy’s travel plans are.

“We’ve been watching this eight days or so; we’ve been monitoring the potential — that’s the key word, potential — for a late-season tropical cyclone,” said meteorologist John Bagioni, owner of Fax-Alert Weather Service in Burlington. “Whether or not this is a viable hurricane or transitions into a very nasty nor’easter is the question that can’t be answered yet. But the energy that comes northward will have originated as a hurricane.”

On Wednesday, Sandy plowed into Jamaica as a Category 1 hurricane, with its near-80 mph winds and a powerful storm surge.

The storm shuttered the island’s airports, prompted cruise ships to change their itineraries and led police to order curfews.

“Sandy will be tracking northward to the Bahamas, getting up to the northern portion by Friday morning, then curve a little bit to the northeast, which typically would be a favorable pattern for the Northeast because it would go out to sea,” said Gary Lessor, a meteorologist at the Weather Center at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

But this situation isn’t typical, he said, because energy in the Pacific is expected to be sliding into the continental United States on Thursday morning, then move eastward across the Plains and Great Lakes region.

That means that, instead of going out to sea, the Pacific system will cause Sandy to stop. The Pacific system will then suck up some of Sandy’s fierce weather and push it toward the Northeast coast, Lessor said.

“There’s some question as to whether Sandy itself or another storm system will get under way and come inland,” he said. “Either way, it looks like a very stormy period for Monday and Tuesday, and still unsettled for Wednesday and Thursday. It may not be ’til Friday before we get some decent weather again.”

Bagioni said it won’t be until late Sunday that meteorologists can accurately predict what kind of storm will hit the state.

“We’re still making sure people understand this is not a done deal,” he said. “There’s no need to attack the grocery stores today.”

Whatever kind of weather system arrives, it will do so a year almost to the day that a freak October snow and ice storm caused widespread power outages and closed down roads throughout Connecticut.