A tropical storm watch was upgraded to a warning Thursday afternoon, with Hurricane Dorian expected to pass southeast of Nantucket early Saturday morning. The storm is forecast to bring winds gusting to 55 mph to the Lower Cape, with heavy rains and scattered power outages.
Having brought devastation to the Bahamas, Dorian is now raking the Southeast Atlantic seaboard; forecasters predict the storm will then weaken and accelerate while moving northeast into the North Atlantic.
Public safety officials are encouraging people to double-check their emergency supply kits and update their family disaster plans. While Dorian is forecast to remain offshore, forecasts are sometimes wrong.
A number of outdoor events are scheduled for this weekend. The final Port Summer Nights music event of the season, set for Friday evening, has been canceled. The Harwich Cranberry Festival's annual Beach Day, planned for Saturday, has also been canceled with no reschedule date. The Chatham End of Summer Bash scheduled for Saturday has been postponed until Sunday, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the VFW on George Ryder Road. Any additional cancellations or postponements will be posted here.
Chatham Harbormaster Stuart Smith urged boat owners to have a plan for securing their vessels."As we all know with these types of weather events, forecasts can change. Should a significant change occur we will keep you posted," the Chatham Police Department posted on its Twitter account.
"Boats that can be trailered should be hauled well ahead of an arriving storm to avoid the last-minute rush at local boat ramps. For boats that cannot be trailered, boat owners should consider relocating to a protected harbor, as Chatham is exposed on all sides to heavy storm conditions." Boats remaining on their moorings should have hawsers, chain and chafing gear in good order. "Keep in mind that the mooring tackle specifications required by the harbormaster are not rated for hurricane conditions. Boat owners should also verify that their boat batteries are charged and bilge pumps are working properly, and should also ensure that their insurance policies are up to date."
In past years, some boaters have asked the harbormaster for safe mooring locations at the last minute, and those spaces cannot be guaranteed since there are not enough public moorings for everyone who might ask for them, Smith said.
"Now that we are in hurricane season, it is important to continually track approaching storms, and take early action to safeguard your boats," Smith said. For help devising a storm refuge plan, boaters should call their harbormaster's office.