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Hurricane Earl continues steam northwest toward the Carolinas, and still looks as though he will impact New England later Friday and Friday night. Though there is still room for wiggle in the track, the forecast track has been quite consistent for the past 48 hours, and we must make preparations for what we in the NECN Weather Center believe will be a pass extremely close to the Island of Nantucket.
Track and Timing:
The consistent trend has been to move the track slightly westward and toward the coast with time. Though we believe a track over Nantucket is most likely, it's not impossible that Earl tracks over the Cape. Either way, the impact is largely the same, though a farther westward track would spread wind farther inland Friday evening and night. Regardless, this is a quick storm - moving in morning to early afternoon Friday, and moving out by Saturday morning, leaving splendid weather for the remainder of the holiday weekend.
Nationally, the most lives are lost in hurricanes due to storm surge - a surge of ocean water that comes ahead of the storm and can raise tide levels substantially. Thankfully, most communities are unlikely to experience a substantial surge in New England. At this point, a one to one and a half foot storm surge is likely along the eastern shorelines of Massachusetts. If the storm tracks close to Cape Cod - inside of Nantucket Island - a quick and nasty storm surge is possible in Wellfleet Harbor and Provincetown Harbor as the storm prepares to depart.
The worst wind will occur on Cape Cod, first from the east, then northeast, then north and finally northwest. We certainly believe hurricane force winds will occur at least in gusts on Cape Cod, though sustained hurricane force wind cannot be ruled out. This will result in widespread damage of tree limbs and power lines to the Outer Cape and Nantucket, with extensive damage still likely on the remainder of Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. Scattered damage is likely for the South Shore of MA, and South Coast of New England from Woods Hole west to New London, CT. Isolated damage is more likely to be the case for coastal communities from the North Shore through Cape Ann to Merrimack River, and for areas farther west along the Connecticut shoreline.
Advice: Evacuations may be needed on Cape - follow any and all orders. All Cape residents should prepare for extended power outages. Some roads may be blocked after the storm. All Eastern and Southern New England residents near the Tropical Storm or Hurricane Watch areas should remove lightweight lawn and patio furniture.
Swell will build Thursday along the South Coast, and continue building through New England waters Thursday night. Mariners who need to move lobster traps, etc., should rush these tasks to completion along all New England coastlines Thursday morning, before seas build. Large waves will also increase rip-currents considerably throughout the holiday weekend.
Advice: Those who are not experienced, strong swimmers should use exceptional caution and limit how deep you wade into ocean waters through Labor Day. Those drawn to the coast during the storm should stay away from vulnerable sand dunes and other areas that may collapse into pounding ocean surf. Mariners should complete tasks, including checking all moorings between Merrimack River and New London, CT. Vessels should be secured with extra ropes and fenders.
Heavy rain will fall along and northwest of Hurricane Earl's track. This places Eastern New England under the gun, and we're expecting 3"-6" of rain to fall later Friday through Friday night. This rain will cause ponding of water on roadways, poor drainage flooding, and some stream flooding. By Saturday and Sunday, as runoff enters river basins, some rivers may flood if enough rain falls. Minor to moderate flooding is possible on the Charles, Neponset, Taunton, Nashua, Shawsheen and Aberjona rivers.
Advice: Curtail travel later Friday and Friday night in heavy rain. Those along rivers should monitor conditions carefullly and be alert for gradual river rises this weekend.
We will offer even more detailed information as the storm nears. Please tune into NECN for the latest, and of course, we'll get information out here on WeatherNewEngland.com, as well.
Good luck with your preparations.