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The Boston Globe

Metro

Mass. coast braces for surging seas from storm

Most residents will have their eyes on the sky as a potentially historic blizzard hits the state Friday. Bob Connors will have to keep one eye on the sky — and one on the ocean.

A homeowner on Plum Island since 1979, Connors fears big winds and high surges from the storm could bring a nasty one-two punch, knocking out progress homeowners have made to restore the beach, battered for years by severe erosion that threatens to drag some homes into the sea.

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“That’s what worries me,” said Connors, 56, a construction company owner, standing outside his beachfront home this afternoon. “All the work we’ve done here, to [restore] the beach, could be gone in a day.”

The beach survived Superstorm Sandy, but a recent nor’easter walloped the beachfront homes on a long sandy strand in Newbury, he said.

“Then we had an event right after Christmas that depleted us of more sand,” he said. “I’m hoping this storm won’t be as powerul as they say it will be.”

Up and down the coast of northeastern Massachusetts, homeowners, fishermen and others who live and work by the sea were preparing today for the biggest snowstorm in two years.

“I’ve lived through nor’easters,” said Jen Miller, who lived in New Hampshire before moving to to Plum Island last October. “But I’ve never had one with snow, plus water. That’s different for us.”

A snowblower was parked in the driveway of the beachfront home she rents. “We haven’t had to use it yet,” she said. “It looks like we will be.”

Along the Gloucester waterfront, lobstermen were busy securing traps and boats, in anticipation of the high tides and heavy winds.

“It looks like it will be nasty,” said Chuck Parisi, 60, storing his yellow-vinyl lobster traps. “Once this area gets filled up with snow, it’s harder to store your traps.”

The nor’easter has brought an early end to a disappointing winter lobstering season, he said.

“The catch wasn’t what I was hoping for,” he said. “I was hoping it would be as good as last winter, when it was warmer. We didn’t have the snow like they’re talking about with this one.”

Mike Frontiero, 54, a longtime lobsterman, plans to secure his lobster boat, The Dunlin, real tight for the nor’easter.

“I’ll just put a few extra lines on the boat to secure it,” Frontiero said, baiting hooks with squid he hopes to cast next week on a codfish trip. “And then I guess I’ll pray. ... What else can you do?”

Meanwhile, down south of Boston, in Scituate, officials are also bracing for flooding and high winds.

Town officials plans to close several roads near the waterfront in anticipation of Friday’s storm. The decision resulted from the experience of previous storms, including Hurricane Sandy, which attracted far too many onlookers to the shore.

“We’re going to have restricted access in some areas of town,” said Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi. “Some of the things we [talked about last time] were the number of people who were there who don’t need to be there.”

Areas such as Lighthouse Road and Humarock are expected to be the hardest hit.

On the coastline, some residents are being advised to board up their houses, and the building inspector has been working to help in those preparations.

Evacuation of some areas may be a possibility, though nothing has yet been declared, Vinchesi said. “As we did the last storm, we tend to send up an update every two to three hours at best,” Vinchesi said. “As long as we have electricity, we will continue to do that, in Web blasts and posting it on the town website, as well as cable.”

Vinchesi added that “if there are high-impact winds, we are expecting power outages to last for a long time, longer than usual because when the electric people come on site, they can’t put people on bucket trucks if [winds are] over 30 miles an hour... If that’s the case, we have to look at long-term impacts, [such as] sheltering.”

High tide is expected at around 9:41 p.m. Friday and 9:57 a.m. Saturday, and according to Michael Page, who runs the website HinghamWeather.com, coastal flooding should be expected.

“There will be a storm surge on the order of two to three feet,” Page said. “When you combine it with an astronomically high tide of 11 feet, there will be moderate flooding in the South Shore. Scituate is always susceptible.”

Globe correspondent Jessica Bartlett contributed to this story.
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