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Severe thunderstorms pop up around CT

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Severe thunderstorm warnings have been issued for Litchfield, Hartford, Fairfield, Middlesex and New Haven counties.

A flash flood warning for Fairfield county was also issued for until about 10 p.m.

Flood advisories were issued for parts of New Haven, New London and Middlesex counties until 11 p.m. Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, nearly the entire state was issued severe thunderstorm watches.

The watch included Hartford, Windham, Tolland, Litchfield, New Haven, and Fairfield. It was set to expire at 10 p.m.

A flash flood watch was in effect for Litchfield County until midnight as well.

A cold front was expected to slowly approach southern New England from the west, according to meteorologists Mike Cameron and Mark Dixon.

"Just a touch of sun will be enough to heat the air into the 80s and, with the 70-degree dew points, will create ample 'juice' to make thunderstorms," Cameron said.

Following Wednesday's weather, which brought wind gusts of 50 mph and heavy downpours to towns like Kent, a similar situation was forecasted to unfold Thursday afternoon.

In fact, winds up to 60 mph could whip through with the storms.

"So, especially after 3 p.m., keep tabs on the weather and have an 'escape place,'" Cameron said. "Strong storms may force you inside."

Cameron said there was ample moisture available to create torrential downpours. He also said there was enough instability to suggest strong wind may come out of some thunderstorm cells.

"The Storm Prediction Center has already highlighted areas just west of Connecticut as being prime breeding grounds for strong thunderstorms," he said.

Those conditions were expected to stream northeast.

"Keep your eye to the sky and plan on the possibility of strong thunderstorms near you [Thursday] afternoon and evening along and west of Interstates 84 and 91."

Hurricane Arthur, which became a Category 1 storm on Thursday with sustained winds of 75 mph, continued to be a concern for the Fourth of July.

"The forecast track is still somewhat uncertain for us," Cameron said. "A deviation of a very small amount could render very different weather for us."

Cameron said refining the exact track was important and difficult.

"We think the upper level wind flow will help transport tropical moisture northward in our direction as the center of the storm eventually passes by to our southeast," he explained.

That stream combined with the slow-moving front could further enhance the potential for heavy rain Thursday night into Friday.

That means the Fourth of July may be wet.

"If you can delay outdoor plans one day to Saturday, it's probably a good idea that you do," Cameron said.

He also said that there might be enough squally shower activity that flooding could be an issue by Friday.

"Some models are suggesting 1"-2" with pockets of 3"-4"-plus possible," Cameron said. "The rain should clear out just after midnight."

Wind damage was not expected as Arthur should stay well offshore.

"An interesting bit of information: Southern New England has never had a direct hit from a Hurricane in the month of July, since records have been kept," Dixon said.

The state was also preparing for whatever Arthur had in store.

"Although the latest forecast does not have Arthur severely impacting the state, we need to continue to monitor the storm's path," Gov. Dannel Malloy said. "This storm is a great reminder that we need to be prepared for whatever mother nature throws at us as we move into the height of hurricane season."

Malloy said that the state Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security was keeping a close eye on the hurricane, which forecasters said could strengthen into a Category 2 storm.

DEMHS officials will take part in ongoing conference calls with the National Weather Service during the next few days, along with sending out regular updates to cities and towns.

They've also gone through all of their preparations just in case they need to activate the emergency operations center. 

For more information about how the state is preparing, click here.

Eyewitness News spotted some people enjoying the warm weather at Cosey Beach in East Haven on Thursday.

"When I hear about a storm, of course we do get frightened and we try to be prepared for it," Louise Manginelli, of East Haven said.

While the weekend was forecasted to be gorgeous, the two potential beach days could see some dangerous rip currents thanks to Arthur.

"Right now, we're forecasting highs in the mid-80s both days," Dixon said.

Copyright 2014 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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