A potentially deadly storm surge along the coastline and high winds inland were the twin concerns as Connecticut began to feel the effects of Hurricane Sandy on Monday morning.
Winds and rain are expected to increase throughout the day, with the most dangerous conditions on Monday night into Tuesday morning. Many forecasters predicted the storm surge could reach 10 feet or more, and some put the potential at 14 feet. By comparison, Tropical Storm Irene's storm surge was 4 feet.
"The high tide cycle prior to noon today will be the first round of devastating flooding," Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Gil Simmons said.
Inland, the danger is less from water than it is from wind, with hurricane-level gusts of 75 mph expected to take down trees and power lines. Widespread power outages are predicted across the entire state.
"The rough stuff will start around 8 a.m. this morning along the shoreline, and about 11 a.m. for inland," according to wxedge.com. "This high wind will last into tomorrow morning across much of the state ... especially along the shoreline."
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Sunday that Hurricane Sandy "is the largest threat to human life this state has experienced in anyone's lifetime."
As of 5 a.m. Monday, the hurricane was about 385 miles south-southeast of New York City, and its winds had increased from 75 mph on Sunday to 85 mph, the National Weather Service reported. The unusual combination of a hurricane interacting with a cold front from the west means the storm is strengthening, rather than weakening, which is why it's expected to last for more than 36 hours.
The storm was moving at 15 mph on Monday morning and was expected to hook to the northwest across New Jersey by Monday night. That scenario puts some of the storm's most dangerous winds across Long Island Sound, pushing up the water level and combining with tides to form a storm surge that could top that of the 1938 hurricane.
Shoreline towns under the greatest threats were evacuated Sunday, but officials still worry that some people will attempt to ride out the storm.
"If your local officials have told you to evacuate, I urge you to heed their warnings," Malloy said on Sunday. "People living in low-lying areas in shoreline towns are taking their lives into their hands if they try to stick the storm out in their homes. Folks, do not do that."
High wind warnings were in effect throughout the state Monday morning, as well as coastal flood warnings.
Residents across the state were asked to weather the storm inside their homes. The state asked non-essential personnel to stay home and most schools are closed.