Henri update: Fair will go on; ferries in flux


Update 6 pm

The path of Tropical Storm Henri is becoming clearer and it’s likely to make landfall further west than forecasters believed 24 hours ago and is expected to make landfall over Long Island, New York. Martha’s Vineyard is now under a tropical storm warning and a storm surge warning, but the hurricane warning posted by the National Weather Service extends close to the Aquinnah coastline.

Hurricane Henri is expected to make landfall as a category 1 storm with winds up to 75 mph south of the Vineyard.

The path has Islanders hopeful that the effects of the storm will be minimized. While it was a bright sunny day Saturday, there was a tropical feel in the afternoon.

The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair announced Saturday afternoon that Sunday’s final day of the fair will go on as scheduled. In a press release, fair officials said the decision was made in consultation with the West Tisbury Emergency Management, as well as other departments. “The storm is currently on a more westerly track than originally forecasted,” the release states. “Given this update, the fair will be open, however modifications can be expected. This may include, but is not limited to reduced ride operations, vendors attendance and event cancellations.  We are taking other precautions to ensure the safety of our volunteers, fair goers, and vendors.”

The fair is open through 11 pm Saturday and will be open from 9:30 am to 6 pm Sunday. “We will make any further announcements as necessary,” the release states.

Emergency officials spent much of their time Friday monitoring the storm. Harbormasters instructed mariners to pull boats from the water and canceled reservations for visitors. Islanders lined up for gas, crowded the liquor store, and made other preparations.

With its westward track, the storm is still expected to bring wind, rain, and a storm surge to the Island, but not to the extent it would have on its early path.

The path’s new direction had Peter Wells, operator of Chappy Ferry, changing his mind on what to do on Sunday. In an email to The Times, he wrote that he updated his warning signs because of the storm’s new path. “High winds may interrupt ferry service Sunday,” the sign reads.

The Island Queen has canceled crossings on Sunday and Monday between Falmouth and Oak Bluffs, according to its social media posts.

On Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker urged visitors to the Cape and Islands not to go because of the storm’s potential impact on the coastline.

The National Weather Service predicts sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph for areas on the outer perimeter of Henri. A storm surge of 3 to 5 feet is predicted. This weekend’s tides are astronomically high and low tides because of the full moon. Strong rip currents are expected all along the southern coast of New England as a result of the storm.

Henri’s expected landfall is 2 pm Sunday, but the effects of the storm will be felt by later today.

Late Friday, the Martha’s Vineyard Emergency Planning Committee issued a press release urging all residents and visitors to “shelter in place starting Saturday and all day Sunday.”

The Steamship is diverting all of Saturday’s ferries through Vineyard Haven.The ferry service has set up a special page on its website for Henri travel updates.https://www.steamshipauthority.com/Henri

While ferries are diverted from Oak Bluffs, the terminal remains open to assist with travelers trying to change reservations.

The ferries were busy shuttling people to the mainland on Saturday. Meanwhile, traffic leaving the Cape was backed up at both the Sagamore and Bourne bridges as if it was a Sunday afternoon.

On Saturday afternoon, SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll issued an update saying that despite Henri’s latest path, it’s still likely to affect travel on Sunday.
“Despite its westerly track, we still expect Henri to affect service for most, if not all, of Sunday. We have not canceled any trips as of yet as the forecast still has some uncertainty to it, so please advise your audiences to check the website for updates on specific trips. The outlook for Monday remains uncertain but there remains a possibility of some service disruptions then as well,” Driscoll wrote. “We were able to add two round-trips aboard the MV Sankaty this morning to get fuel trucks to and from Martha’s Vineyard and to get utility equipment to the Vineyard as well. Between those trips and working to open up more spaces on other vessels, including booking spaces on lift decks on board the MV Island Home, we have added approximately 100 vehicle spaces off the Vineyard today. We also are working to add any available vehicle spaces on the Nantucket route as well, although there are fewer opportunities to do so there as fewer trips are available overall.”

Driscoll also provided an update on reservations. “Our reservation and terminal staff are working to attempt to rebook customers who are trying to get off the island ahead of the storm,” he wrote. “For those who are unable to do so, they will travel on standby as soon as the storm passes and service is able to resume. There will be no general standby offered, so those affected by the storm will have first priority on open space, but depending on how long service is out it may take some time to accommodate everyone who had reservations on a missed trip.”

To report a power outage, call Eversource at 1-800-592-2000. 

The state Division of Marine Fisheries has closed all shellfish beds in Massachusetts beginning at sunrise on Sunday except conch and scallop abductor muscle. “Digging, harvesting or collecting and/or attempting to  dig, harvest or collect shellfish and the possession of shellfish from the below-defined areas is prohibited,” the release states.

This is a developing story.


  1. NO ONE knows what Henri is going to be or where. That is reality. The fact is that Mother Nature does exactly what it wants to — regardless of predictions. Prepare for the worst in order to ensure your own safety and protection. This tiny, rural Island has ~200K people on it. Our rural public services are already stretched beyond capacity — including our triage hospital of 27 beds and 3 ventilators. MVH has asked us NOT to use our ER due to overwhelming need as we already have a life threatening pandemic viral spread crisis. Now Hurricane Henri is arriving in hours. No ER, folks. It’s time to live in reality and PREPARE. Good luck and God Speed, everyone.

    P.S. At this point, the Ag Fair NOT closing is unconscionable. There are in fact more far important considerations than money.

  2. Well, if the dopes on the ground don’t know enough to cancel a super spreader event, Mother Nature will do it for them. It’s always a good idea to listen to your Mother.

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