Views were for the birders
On Manomet Point in Plymouth, a high bluff with panoramic views of Cape Cod Bay, bird watchers from across Eastern Massachusetts braved wind gusts of 40 to 50 miles per hour Monday to scan the horizon with binoculars. They said the storm presented a rare opportunity, with powerful northeasterly winds pushing bird species they normally don’t see into viewing range.
“We’re out in force,” said Steve Arena, a veteran birder from Westborough who parked his car at the edge of the bluff and sat studying the skies over the ocean from the shelter of the driver’s seat. “We’re here for the day.”
Nearby, Plymouth bird watcher Mark Faherty pointed out a Cory’s shearwater, a seabird that nests closer to the Mediterranean. “It’s flying left – just turned right,” he said. He added it to a list of sightings that included the horned grebe and the white-winged scoter.
During a storm last year, Faherty said, bird watchers at the Quabbin Reservoir spotted species they normally would have to go to Bermuda to see.
“There are holy grail birds like the Atlantic puffin, and sometimes, in a storm like this, you get them,” he said. “But you have to put in the time to get a real find.”
— Jenna Russell
Gone with the wind?
Salem tourism officials are closely monitoring Hurricane Sandy’s path, but expect that Halloween festivities planned for Wednesday will go on as planned.
“I’m just holding my breath and waiting for the storm to pass,” Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, the city’s tourism office, said Monday.
Wind, not rain, will determine if dance parties, a beer garden, and a fireworks display planned for city streets will be held on Wednesday night, she said.
“We’ve had the events before in light rain,” Fox said. “We’re really hoping that the wind dies down, and there isn’t a fear that the beer garden will get blown away, and we can have Halloween as planned.”
The owners of private tourist attractions will decide if they choose to stay open, Fox added. Most were closed Monday, after Governor Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency. Some also plan to be closed on Tuesday.
The hurricane prompted a flurry of cancellations at The Hawthorne Hotel, a 93-room venue that is usually sold out for Halloween week. There are 30 vacancies for Halloween night, general manager Julie Lederhaus said.
“It’s definitely had a financial impact,” Lederhaus said, noting the hotel is offering special deals to fill beds.
— Kathy McCabe
Storm fills up Twitter feeds
The hurricane provoked a wave of tweets. Since Friday, more than 3.3 million Sandy posts have showed up on Twitter, according to Crimson Hexagon Inc., a Boston social media analytics firm. Most people discussed the storm’s status, said Wayne St. Amand, the company’s vice president of marketing, while others posted updates on how they rode out the bad weather. “Events that affect large numbers of individuals are the kinds of things that draw people online and get them talking,” said St. Amand.
#Sandy and #frankenstorm were among popular hashtags. The company characterized 2 percent of the hurricane tweets this way: “Bring it on, Sandy!”
— Michael B. Farrell
Stocking up for Fido
Pet owners made last-minute trips Monday morning and early afternoon to stock up on food and key supplies to care for their pets.
Standing at the checkout counter of the Unleashed by Petco pet supplies store in Allston, 50-year-old resident Arthur Laurie said he was buying food for his two cats and three dogs “in case everything goes to pot.” The storm had just started to pick up steam in Boston as whipping winds brought reports of power outages, downed trees, and other damage.
“We want to make sure we have enough food to ride out the storm,” said Laurie, who also owns two guinea pigs, which he said had plenty of food.
The scene at pet shops before major storms is similar to the frantic rush for human food and supplies at grocery stores, said an employee at the Allston pet shop.
“It’s pretty much the same thing as a grocery store before a blizzard when people buy bread, milk, and butter,” the worker said. “People come in here for the basics.”
— Matt Rocheleau
Showtime in Plymouth
The small, gray-shingled Manomet Lobster Pound in Plymouth was open and doing a brisk business in clam chowder, cooked shrimp, and crabcakes, employees said as the wind banged the door open and shut. Outside, cars crawled past on their way to the edge of a scenic promontory.
“It’s like a parade,” employee Bryan Williams said of the steady traffic. But, he acknowledged, the storm “is quite the show.”
Lobster Pound founder Frank Collins, who started the landmark Plymouth business 49 years ago, was unimpressed by the storm.
“This is a normal nor’easter, compared to some of the serious storms we’ve had,” he said. “I haven’t even bought new flashlight batteries.”
A short drive down the coastal road on White Horse Beach, school nurse Robin Deshowitz was witnessing her first major ocean storm, and she felt awe at the sight.
“It’s beautiful. . . . It’s amazing,” said Deshowitz, who moved to Plymouth last fall, as she took pictures of the towering waves, bundled in a blue windbreaker. “It gives you an appreciation for nature. . . . It’s scary, and you hope everyone is safe, but at the same time you feel humbled.”
— Jenna Russell
Many businesses around the region shuttered Monday, but those that stayed open made the best of it. Towne Stove and Spirits served a special cocktail for those who braved the storm in the Back Bay: a $9 Hurricane — a mixture of rums, passion fruit syrup, and juices. The Red Hat in Scollay Square kept its usual hours and served up a “Perfect Storm” cocktail.
“It’s a little quiet,” said bartender Acadia Bombaci. “But there are some people drinking the Perfect Storm and riding out the weather.”
— Jenn Abelson