Attached from the salem News:
Marblehead: A yacht is hauled out of the water at Marblehead Trading Company’s Beacon Street facility to be stored on land in preparation for the coming storm. photo by Mark Teiwes / Salem News
Salem: Dick Robie of Marblehead watches as his boat the “Christie” is hauled out of the water at the FJ Dion Yacht Yard to be stored on land in preparation for the coming storm. He has sailed the boat for 42 years, and this is the first time he has pulled it out as suggested by the marina. After the storm passes he will have it put back in the water until the end of September. photo by Mark Teiwes / Salem News
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August 26, 2011
North Shore readies for Irene
Hurricane poses first serious threat to the region in 20 years
By Michael Phillis
As dark clouds hung over the horizon near the Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead yesterday, a steady stream of utility vehicles backed down the dock to remove boats from the water and harm’s way.
“Don’t take any chances,” Marblehead resident Rob Gorman said as he secured his boats to his trailer. Gorman was taking action because of the imposing threat of Hurricane Irene, now a Category 3 storm moving up the Atlantic coast.
It’s been more than 20 years since New England has faced a serious hurricane threat. The last such event, Hurricane Bob, hit New England on Aug. 20, 1991, and local meteorologist Arthur Francis said Hurricane Irene could be a comparable event.
“What we have to look for is where the exact center is going to go,” Francis said. Bob had the largest impact near Cape Cod, where sustained wind speeds pounded the shore at 80 to 110 mph. Gusts topped 125 mph. Salem, however, wasn’t hit as hard. Locally, according to Francis, the eye of the storm was never close enough to have an acutely damaging impact.
“Our peak gusts were 66 mph. We had thunderstorms during the hurricane when the wind was blowing. Our rainfall was 3.18 inches,” Francis said. “Mostly what we had is rain.” The comparably light effect of the hurricane locally was a result of its trajectory.
Where the eye hits, and how close, is paramount. According to the National Weather Service, Irene will hit the North Shore either late Sunday night or early Monday morning. If the eye passes to the east, expect heavier rain and softer winds. If it passes to the west, residents can expect opposite extremes. Also, because of the orientation of Salem and Marblehead’s harbors, storm surge will be worse if the eye passes to the east because wind will flood down into the harbors.
“This will be … like Bob but I think a little stronger,” Francis said.
Local officials want residents to be prepared.
“Timing is everything,” Salem Harbormaster Bill McHugh said. “What we are recommending, if you have some recreational (craft) that are trailerable, people (should) pull them out of the water temporarily.”
McHugh said if boaters do decide to keep their boats attached to their moorings, they should make sure their craft are extra secure. Poorly secured boats are a danger to the entire harbor because if waves rip even a small craft from a mooring, it could collide with a number of other nearby boats and cause considerable damage.
McHugh said his department has prepared for a potentially large storm surge by removing such vessels as the Salem Willows float from the water. As the storm nears, they may do the same for other boats, as well.
Marblehead Harbormaster Charles J. Dalferro also stressed preparedness and planning ahead. “As far as people getting in and out of their boat, go early and take precautions now. Don’t wait till the storms are here.”
“Do it now,” he said.
In Peabody, where flooding has been an issue, Mayor Michael Bonfanti said the town is doing what it can to prepare, which includes coordinating with the Red Cross to set up emergency shelters, if they are needed.
Flooding, however, is a possibility. “If (the storm) is to our west, like it looks like its going to be, maybe (we’ll get) 4 inches of rain,” he said. “It could cause some temporary flooding.”
Towns are in contact with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. “We are finalizing our plans,” said Peter Judge, the agency’s public information officer.
Judge said the agency has been working with local and federal officials and holding conference calls with local leaders to help with planning and possible localized evacuations.
“We aren’t talking about widespread evacuations,” Judge said.
Still, the storm is far away.
“Once it gets closer, we are going to have a better feel for what potential damage their is going to be in (our) communities,” Judge said.
Judge and other emergency officials said much was still unknown.
“We’re praying like hell it misses,” said Steve Karger, general manager of the Marblehead Yacht Club. “There is always somebody that shows up 10 minutes before you are closing down and says, ‘I didn’t hear about this storm.’”
Read about the Mother’s Day Floods in William Sargent’s books “Just Seconds From the Ocean; Coastal Living in the Wake of Katrina,” and “The House on Ipswich Marsh.”
Available at UPNE.com and through comments on this site.