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Nor’easter downgraded, could still snarl hurricane cleanup

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey said high winds could knock out power again and slow efforts to restore it.

ASSOCIATED PRESS/pool

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey said high winds could knock out power again and slow efforts to restore it.

NEW YORK — Weather forecasters had good news for beleaguered Northeast coastal residents Tuesday: A new storm that threatened to complicate Hurricane Sandy cleanup efforts on Wednesday now looks like it will be weaker than expected.

As the storm moves up the Atlantic coast from Florida, it now is expected to veer farther offshore than earlier projections had indicated. Jeff Masters of the private service Weather Underground says that means less wind and rainfall on land.

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Even so, he said, winds could still gust to 50 miles per hour in New York and New Jersey Wednesday afternoon and evening.

And Lauren Nash, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service, said wind gusts might blow down tree limbs weakened from Sandy and cause more power outages. On Wednesday night, gusts may occasionally reach 60 miles per hour in coastal Connecticut and Long Island, she said.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey warned Tuesday that high winds may mean some residents who regained power will lose it again, and the wind could slow efforts to restore power. There is ‘‘nothing we can do to stop the storms,’’ he said.

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Storm surges along the coasts of New Jersey and New York are expected to reach perhaps 3 feet, only half to a third of what Hurricane Sandy caused last week, Masters said. While that should produce only minor flooding, he said, it will still cause some erosion problems along the New Jersey coast and the shores of Long Island, where Sandy destroyed some protective dunes.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said people who remained in some extremely flood-prone areas would be asked to leave their homes voluntarily ‘‘out of precaution.’’ The city ordered construction stopped and parks closed for the upcoming storm.

Coastal Virginia could also get a surge of 2 or 3 feet, causing minor flooding on the east side of Chesapeake Bay during high tides Wednesday morning and evening, Masters said.

However, most of the storm’s rain will stay offshore, with maybe an inch or two expected in Massachusetts and less than an inch elsewhere along the coast, he said.

Up to an inch of snow may fall in northeastern New Jersey and the lower Hudson River Valley, weather service meteorologist Mike Layer said. Central Massachusetts and western Connecticut also could get an inch or two of snow, according to Masters.

Along the Jersey shore, which was devastated by last week’s superstorm, there was some relief that damage projections from the nor’easter have been scaled back. But there was still concern about the ocean barreling past beaches and dunes that were largely washed away.

In Bay Head, heavy machinery was used to hastily push sand piles back into where well-rooted dune systems once stood.

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