Hanna set to darken New England skies

NASHUA – You may want to postpone that last barbecue of the summer until Sunday afternoon.

Or if you’re going out, be sure to pack a rain coat.

While Gulf Coast residents clean up after Hurricane Gustav and prepare for a possible lashing from Hurricane Ike, Tropical Storm Hanna is expected to breeze up the eastern seaboard and bring wet and windy weather to New England.

Alex Sosnowski, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.com, said Hanna’s center is expected to brush New Hampshire Sunday morning. But the storm is “lopsided” with most of the rain in the front and much of the wind to the north and east, he said.

Both elements were expected to hit today and will likely last into the evening.

Sosnowski said 40 mph winds with gusts up to 60 mph are expected, especially along the coast. He said the southern portion of the state will likely get two inches of rain, some places as much as four inches.

With most of the wind and rain in the storm’s leading edge, it could clear out of the region quickly. Sosnowski guessed Sunday afternoon would be sunny.

Local emergency crews are watching the storm carefully but most aren’t mobilizing crews or resources to get ready. Nashua, Hudson and Merrimack fire officials said they’re in contact with state emergency management officials and that it’s business as usual this weekend unless the storm track changes.

“Our preparations really are typical,” Hudson Fire Chief Shawn Murray said. “More or less we’ll just watch to see what the storm is going to do, more or less like a typical summer storm.”

The National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass., has issued a flash flood watch for Hillsborough and Cheshire counties for Saturday and early Sunday, according to a storm update sent to emergency management officials throughout the state from the N.H. Homeland Security and Emergency Management office.

Since the storm is moving so fast – about 40 mph – flooding shouldn’t be drastic though it may occur in some urban areas with poor drainage, Sosnowski said.

The rain could swell smaller streams but shouldn’t affect rivers, he said.