Jose lingered, causing travel issues, but not much more

Some erosion, trees down, but mostly an ‘inconvenience.’

Stranded passengers inside the Steamship Authority's Vineyard Haven terminal last Thursday. — Rich Saltzberg


There were some trees toppled, like one in Vineyard Haven described by Paul Doherty in a letter to the editor, and a good-size one in Oak Bluffs off Circuit Avenue, as well.

Martha’s Vineyard Airport recorded a wind gust of 49 mph on Thursday, and Tropical Storm Jose dumped 4 inches of rain in Chilmark, Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, said.

A few scattered power outages were reported, and the beaches took a pounding from heavy surf, but not as badly as can happen in such storms — particularly ones where the coastline is influenced by an astronomically high tide.

There was scarping of dunes, and Bret Stearns, natural resources director for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), said the cliffs took some battering. “Normal fare for these storms,” Mr. Stearns said. “The beaches held intact better than expected.”

There was also modest beach erosion at Cape Poge, Chris Kennedy, executive director of the The Trustees of Reservations, said. A 1.5- to 1.75-mile stretch of beach from Aruda’s Point to the elbow beach was denuded of sand, leaving a “rocky cobble,” he said. Mr. Kennedy said he expects sand to return in a few weeks, as a lot of sand is still moving in the water.

Oversand vehicle traffic is currently restricted, and there was some flooding on some inner trails at Norton Point, Mr. Kennedy said.

The biggest issue from Tropical Storm Jose, a storm slow to arrive and even slower to leave, was travel-related. Ferries ran sporadically on Wednesday, were completely shut down on Thursday, and on Friday returned to service slowly.

Some Steamship Authority ferries were canceled at the last minute; people waited hours in the standby line, and some expressed frustration, though they declined to give their names, over the chaos caused by the lack of answers from SSA staff.

Bob Davis, general manager for the Steamship, told The Times they wait as long as they can before making a decision to cancel trips. For example, on Thursday morning, they waited to cancel an 8:15 am trip to the Island, thinking that it might be possible in the light of day.

“We endeavor not to cancel if it’s safe,” he said. “Captains have the final call on that.”

As for the chaos that ensued after that, it’s to be expected with so many trips canceled that there will be a backup of vehicles trying to get off and on the Vineyard, he said. There is a protocol in place to handle reservations first and then put those who had reserved canceled trips in standby, Mr. Davis said. Food, fuel, and emergency vehicles are prioritized.

As for which ferries run, some of that had to do with where they were docked at slips, he said.

It was tough traveling in and out of Martha’s Vineyard Airport, as well, Ann Richart, manager of the airport, said Monday.

On Thursday, all of the commercial flights were canceled, she said. On Friday they started operating on a limited schedule. “It was really two days that it was pretty rough,” she said.

John Packer of RM Packer in Vineyard Haven said he collected two boats in Tashmoo that broke their lines and floated free but were undamaged — a 12-foot rigid inflatable, and a 20-foot Grady White. It doesn’t take intense gusts to break a line. Three days of steady wind-chaffing will do it, he said.

Ms. Richart put the storm in perspective compared with what Harvey, Irma, and Maria have wrought. “It was a storm, but given all of the devastation from storms all over the place, this was nothing more than an inconvenience,” she said. “This was OK for us.”

On Tuesday, Tisbury selectman Tristan Israel praised Eversource’s line crews for quick response to power outages during Jose.

As for the weather outlook, Mr. Dunham said Maria, now a tropical storm, is staying further to the south and east of the Cape and Islands. Heavy surf and rip currents are likely as the storm passes, he said.