Massachusetts officials are hoping that Hurricane Earl veers away from the state’s coast but preparing as if there will be a direct hit, authorities said Wednesday.
The category 3 storm is forecast to pass about 100 miles southeast of Nantucket on Friday, bringing no more than heavy seas, high winds and rain to the region. A slight change in track to the west, however, could make things much worse.
“Everyone is poised and ready to pull the trigger if Earl turns west, but our hope is that this thing goes out to sea and we’re all golfing this weekend,” said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the state Emergency Management Agency. The state Emergency Operations Center in Framingham will be open around the clock beginning Friday.
The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning Wednesday for much of the North Carolina coast and hurricane watches from Virginia to Delaware. North Carolina’s Outer Banks were evacuated, and Virginia’s governor declared a state of emergency.
“We’re in a watching and waiting mode,” said Mashpee Fire Chief George Baker, chairman of the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is in contact with officials across the state, Judge said, though Cape Cod and the Islands are expected to bear the brunt of the storm.
The state is urging residents to monitor the storm, and make sure they have an emergency kit and communications plan in place, as for any emergency.
Some boaters have already pulled their vessels from the water in anticipation of rough seas, said Harwich Assistant Harbor Master Heinz Proft. The Labor Day weekend is about the time of year when people start pulling their boats anyway, so some are just accelerating the process.
“It’s been a small percentage so far, but we are encouraging people to be proactive,” he said from Saquatucket Harbor Marina, which berths about 200 vessels.
For owners who can’t haul their boats, the town is urging them to add another line to secure their vessels, and batten down the hatches.
The Red Cross’ Cape and Islands chapter has verified its volunteers’ availability, checked its equipment and put its supplies in place in case it’s called on to supply the region’s emergency shelters planned for Sandwich, Mashpee, Yarmouth, Barnstable, Nauset, Harwich, Nantucket and West Tisbury.
“We’re as ready as we can be at this point,” said chapter Director Glenn Beasley.