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N.H. officials brace for 'major' coastal flooding as nor'easter nears

Union Leader Correspondent

February 28. 2018 8:23PM

Sam Riemer, a senior at Southern New Hampshire University who plays on the golf team, was practicing on the putting green at Candia Woods on Wednesday afternoon. (Allegra Boverman/Union Leader)

HAMPTON — Local emergency officials are preparing for the possibility of significant coastal flooding from a major nor’easter taking aim at parts of New Hampshire.

The coastal storm is expected to arrive late Thursday night and linger into Saturday, battering the Seacoast with strong winds, coastal flooding, heavy rain and even some snow farther inland.

“It’s not going to move very fast, but it’s going to intensify very fast,” said Michael Cempa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

A coastal flood watch was issued for the Seacoast from Friday morning through Saturday afternoon with moderate flooding expected and local areas of major flooding that could inundate roads and buildings around the time of high tide Friday and Saturday.

Forecasters said the tide of greatest concern in Hampton is Friday’s high tide at 11:21 a.m.

In addition to coastal flooding, the weather service advised that long period swell over the course of several tide cycles will cause significant splash-over and coastal erosion.

High winds are also a concern, especially near the coast, where gusts up to 55 mph are expected to develop by Friday morning.

With memories of the coastal flooding that wreaked havoc on Hampton Beach during a powerful nor’easter in January still fresh, public safety officials in Hampton are taking no chances.

Hampton Fire Chief Jameson Ayotte said town officials plan to meet today to further assess the forecast and figure out what will be needed in terms of staffing and equipment.

Hampton Police Chief Rich Sawyer said the town is trying to acquire decommissioned military vehicles that could be used in storms like the upcoming nor’easter.

While the town doesn’t have any yet, officials are checking with state and municipal partners to possibly borrow military vehicles for this week’s storm.

“We are working to obtain vehicles that would allow public safety to navigate flooded streets," Ayotte said.

The push for the free military vehicles began after the January storm that resulted in numerous rescues of drivers and others trapped in flood waters. Sawyer said police and fire vehicles aren’t designed to handle brackish water — a mix of salt and fresh water — which caused some damage during the last storm.

“Our big issue most of the time is the water that we get from the marsh coming in from the back and the wind keeps the water in for a longer period of time,” he said.

Ayotte said local officials will continue to evaluate the storm’s potential impacts with guidance from the National Weather Service and New Hampshire’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management office.

Weather Hampton

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