Island braces for another coastal storm

Left Fork experienced severe flooding during December's storm —Courtesy of Kara Shemeth

The National Weather Service is expecting a storm system to move into the region Tuesday evening and into Wednesday, bringing fears that south-facing beaches could once again be damaged.

Alan Dunham, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says to expect Southeast winds gusting as high as 65 miles per hour on the Vineyard Tuesday night; Wednesday morning, that is expected to change over to the Southwest.

Dunham said that Edgartown could experience moderate coastal flooding at high tide, with the rest of the Island projected to have some light coastal flooding.

In Edgartown, town departments were meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss a storm response. The coastline is still recovering from a strong storm, also with Southeast winds, that whipped South Beach and other areas about three weeks ago. The Edgartown conservation department is asking that the public stay clear of the south shore tomorrow, as they try to mitigate possible erosion.

Town administrator James Hagerty said that Norton Point would likely be closed throughout Wednesday, and through the weekend. The town has also reinforced a sinkhole on Atlantic Drive that came about during December’s storm; barricades have been staged at the road as well. And the fire and police department are staging personnel on Chappy, with ferry service intermittent. 

The Trustees of Reservations are expecting their south-facing beaches to be hit hard again. Mary Dettloff, director of public relations, says it is difficult to do any sort of resiliency work immediately before and during the storm. They will wait until it passes before focusing on restoration work. 

Power outages are possible as well. An Eversource spokesperson says they are preparing for an impact on the Island, and have sent an additional 10 crews to help repair any outages.

Also, the Steamship Authority is forecasting cancellations on both routes starting Wednesday morning.

The ferry line is waiving change and cancellation fees for travel scheduled from 6 pm Tuesday through Wednesday. To change or modify a reservation, visit the Steamship’s website, call the reservation office at 508-477-8600, or visit one of the terminals.