Public schools closed Friday; Island braces for snow, flooding

Oak Bluffs officials closed East Chop Drive Saturday afternoon, between Munroe and Brewster Avenues. — File photo by Steve Myrick

Updated 2:50 pm, Thursday January 2, 2013

All public schools, including the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, will be closed tomorrow, January 3, because of the forecast snowstorm bearing down on Southern New England.

Superintendent James Weiss made the decision Thursday morning and began notifying students and parents.

The Martha’s Vineyard Public High School announced an 11 am dismissal for students on Thursday, as light snow began to blanket the Island. Elementary schools announced a noon dismissal.

All Thursday afternoon activities at the Boys & Girls Club in Edgartown and the Y in Oak Bluffs are cancelled. The Y is closing at 4 pm Thursday and hopes to reopen at noon on Friday, but advises that plan is subject to change, depending on the weather.

Edgartown closed its town hall at noon today and said it will remain closed tomorrow. The Edgartown Library and Council on Aging both closed early Thursday and will remain closed on Friday.

Oak Bluffs town officials announced that East Chop Drive, between Munroe Avenue and Brewster Avenue, will close at 2 pm Thursday. That stretch of East Chop Drive was already reduced to one lane because of concerns about erosion of the coastal bank.

Oak Bluffs Town Hall, library, and Council on Aging will all be closed Friday.

Tisbury declared a parking ban from 8 pm Thursday until 8 pm Friday. No parking is allowed in any public parking spaces. The Vineyard Haven Public Library closed early Thursday, and plans to reopen at 1 pm Friday, if the weather allows.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Martha’s Vineyard and most of southern New England.

“Heavy snow and strong winds tonight into Friday morning,” the weather service forecasters wrote in the warning. “A period of near blizzard conditions is possible tonight into Friday morning. Snow accumulation of 5 to 10 inches.”

The weather service also warns the storm will bring extremely cold temperatures, combined with strong winds that will create a wind chill factor well below zero.

“There is potential for wind chills of 15 below late tonight, into tomorrow,” the weather service wrote Thursday. “There is the potential for wind chills of 15 to 25 below late Friday night into early Saturday.”

Forecasters are also concerned about coastal flooding, with northeast winds predicted to blow about 25 miles per hour, with gusts up to 45 miles per hour beginning Thursday evening.

The new moon occurred January 1, triggering the highest tides of the monthly lunar cycle.

The weather service issued a gale warning for marine interests, in effect from 1 pm Thursday through Friday evening. Forecasters advised freezing spray could be a hazard for boats.