CHATHAM, MASS. (WHDH) - Storm preparations continued in Massachusetts and beyond on Friday as Hurricane Lee churned north on a track toward the waters off New England and the Canadian coast.
The storm, as of Friday morning, is forecast to pass roughly 150 miles east of Chatham as a category one hurricane on Saturday before possibly making landfall in Nova Scotia Saturday afternoon.
While Lee isn’t expected to make landfall in New England, some boat owners on the Cape were not taking any chances as they pulled their vessels from the water Thursday.
“You like your boat, you don’t want it to sink, you want it to be there after the storm,” said Scott Geary. “You take it out.”
At Chatham Paint and Hardware, Matt Higgins said business had been brisk of late, with a run on flashlights, batteries and generators.
“If you don’t have stuff, you’re going to go out and get it,” Higgins said. “You’re going to come down. You’re going to see us.”
A picture perfect sunny day Thursday was just what many on the Cape were hoping for.
Still, longtime Chatham resident Andrew Buckley said he was keeping an eye on the forecast.
“Even if we don’t get really high winds, we could get a whole lot of rain in which case I’m looking, myself, at maybe a washed out driveway or trees coming down because the ground is so soaked,” Buckley said.
One couple visiting the Cape told 7NEWS they were cutting their vacation short.
“We’re right on the water,” said John Green. “So, we are just concerned about the surge that may occur on Saturday morning.”
“We have a plane to catch at one o’clock on Saturday,” Green said.
Eversource President of Regional Electric Operations Craig Hallstrom discussed Eversource’s storm plans on Thursday, saying utility crews are expecting to feel the peak of Lee’s impacts between sunrise and 12 p.m. Saturday.
“Then it gets out of here pretty quick and Sunday is supposed to be a pretty good day,” Hallstrom said.
Hallstrom in a separate statement said crews had been watching Lee “for more than a week.”
With the storm nearing, Hallstrom said the combination of high winds and saturated soil from recent rain could create conditions where trees and tree limbs could topple onto electric lines and equipment, knocking out power in some spots.
“We’ve gone through our storm checklists, and we’re fully stocked with utility poles, wire and other necessary materials,” Hallstrom said. “Crews will be staged around the state with a heavy emphasis in the areas expecting the highest winds – so they’re ready to restore power as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
Hallstrom said crews were in the process of opening emergency operation centers Thursday, adding “It’s still kind of a major storm.”
Back in Chatham, Deputy Harbormaster Jason Holm said he was concerned about storm surge as many boats remained in the water Thursday.
“We’re going to have a little bit of storm surge,” he said. “Obviously, if people’s mooring chain fails, we’ll be getting boats up on the beach.”
Tropical storm warning in effect for much of coastal New England
Forecasts on Friday projected peak wind gusts potentially as high as 70 miles per hour on the mid- to outer Cape and Nantucket, with lesser gusts further west as Lee makes its closest approach to the region.
A widespread area of coastline throughout New England could see between one and three feet of storm surge.
Though rain from Lee is expected to be light though much of Massachusetts, part of Cape Cod could receive between one and two inches of total rain.
The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning for some communities on Thursday morning, later expanding the warning to include a large stretch of coastline in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.
By Friday morning, a coastal flood warning was also in place for Cape Cod and Nantucket, warning of minor to moderate flooding with high tides around 1 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday.
South Shore boaters, property owners monitor Lee
The Cape and Islands are expected to see the worst of local impacts from Lee.
On the South Shore, though, many boaters in Marshfield were also monitoring the weather while adding fenders and doubling up mooring lines Thursday.
“I think we’re going to get some elevated winds,” said boat owner Bill McBain.
Local first responders said they are ready for whatever this weekend brings.
“We’re in the water,” said Marshfield Harbormaster Mike DiMeo. “We’re not going anywhere in case there are potential rescues, things like that.”
“We hope people will stay in, especially surfers and things like that,” DiMeo said. “We hope people will stay off the beaches and off the sea walls as well so no one gets swept away in the rip currents.”
7NEWS took to the ocean with DiMeo, spotting many recreational vessels still in the water on Thursday.
While DiMeo was not urging boaters to immediately get their boats out of the water, he was urging boat owners to take precautions.
“I’d say roughly 10 to 20% of the people are hauling boats,” he said.
Indeed, some people were seen removing their vessels. On shore, others pulled up stairways to beaches in anticipation of high water.
Some residents in the Brant Rock area of Marshfield were boarding up windows and some residents put down sandbags.
Still other Marshfield property owners said they were taking a wait-and-see approach.
“I’m not pulling the stairs up or anything like that,” said resident Russ Ryan. “I don’t expect it to be dangerously high tides and it looks like it’s going to be a quick hit.”
One town over from Marshfield, in Scituate, SKY7-HD captured video of a harbor full of boats on Thursday as town leaders spread the word that residents should take precautions.
“We are a little concerned about the wind,” said Scituate Town Administrator Jim Boudreau.
“Make sure your generators are gassed up and ready to go,” Boudreau said. “Get out of the low lying areas. Stay out of those areas that are prone to being flooded either from wave action or tidal action.”
Boston officials discuss local storm preparations
Boston is not expected to see major storm impacts this weekend. Speaking on Thursday, though, Mayor Michelle Wu said city staffers are prepared in case Lee’s track changes.
Among measures, officials in a corresponding statement Thursday afternoon said crews were preparing for expected rain by clearing debris off catch basins.
Officials said Boston Centers for Youth and Families facilities will be open for regular hours through the duration of any local Lee impacts and shared a series of precautions for residents, including reminders to charge cell phones, monitor weather updates and trim or remove damaged trees and limbs.
“Our City departments have been preparing for every potential impact of this storm, and even as the projected path has moved further away from Boston, we are taking every step to be ready for the unexpected,” Wu said. “Our top priority is to ensure the safety of everyone in our communities, so please plan ahead to stay indoors if possible on Saturday and check on your loved ones and neighbors.”
Speaking at Thursday’s storm preparations press conference, Wu said city officials will be paying special attention to areas along the coast while also making sure anyone in need has a place to stay.
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