A slower than usual morning commute is likely on tap for Thursday, particularly for South Shore residents, as a multi-day storm is expected to bring heavy rain and wind gusts as strong as 60 miles per hour to parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The storm could drop several inches of rain, and residents are urged to prepare for flooding and power outages, the National Weather Service said.
“A significant & potentially dangerous situation is unfolding which may catch some folks off guard as an early-season offshore ocean storm system develops,” forecasters tweeted Wednesday morning. “Plan accordingly & take action as necessary towards the protection of life & property.”
The storm could last until the Friday morning commute, and the most significant impacts will likely be felt in Southeastern Massachusetts and on the Cape and Islands.
“We’re expecting the most intense conditions occurring during the afternoon and evening hours on Thursday,” said Eleanor Vallier-Talbot, a meteorologist with the weather service.
The heaviest rain should fall late Wednesday night through Thursday night and could result in flooding in coastal communities and areas with poor drainage.
“We could see quite a bit of rainfall, and there is the potential for damaging winds that could take trees and power lines down,” she said. “It’s going to be a pretty good storm. We are monitoring this very closely.”
Rain was already falling on the South Shore, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod shortly after 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, said Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the weather service.
He expected it to rain through Wednesday night, all day Thursday, and through Thursday night. The heaviest rain in Massachusetts, he said, is going to fall on the South Shore, Cape Cod and the Islands. On the South Shore, he anticipated between an inch to an inch-and-a-half of rain to fall before the morning commute.
“Allow extra time for the morning commute, especially coming up from the South Shore,” he said.
Winds will be increasing in strength and should reach their peak by Thursday afternoon before eventually subsiding Friday into Saturday, forecasters said.
“Potential scattered power outages especially w/ trees still fully leaved,” forecasters tweeted. “Can’t rule out some isolated structural damage as well.”
Forecasters were predicting 2 to 2.5 inches of rainfall on Cape Ann; 4 to 6 inches across Southeastern Massachusetts and the Cape and Islands; 3 and 3.5 inches around Greater Boston; and 1.5 to 2.5 inches in Central Massachusetts, she said.
The area of Newport, R.I., could get up to 4 inches of rainfall, she said.
A flood watch will be in effect for parts of Southeastern Massachusetts (Bristol County and Plymouth County) and the Cape and the Islands from 8 p.m. Wednesday until 8 a.m. Friday.
Forecasters said gale force winds and a storm surge of 2 feet or higher could result in “minor to moderate coastal flooding” Thursday and Friday along with “significant beach erosion” for east facing coastlines of Nantucket, Marthas Vineyard, Cape Cod, and coastal Plymouth county.
[Coastal Flooding]— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) October 9, 2019
A 1.5 - 2.5 foot surge building tonight thru Thurs night. This as seas build 15 - 25 feet on the outer waters.
Thru several high tide cycles, esp Thurs night & Fri morn, along w/ persistent NE winds we're expecting minor coastal flooding across southeast MA. pic.twitter.com/KOgBduKfcm
Forecasters warned mariners that gale to storm force winds with gusts up to 70 miles per hour are possible on the outer waters late Thursday into Thursday night.
“Dangerous boating conditions for all vessels as waves build up to 25 feet,” forecasters tweeted.
In addition, for MARINERS, gale to storm force winds are forecast the height of which will be around late Thursday into Thursday night with gusts up around 60 kts (70 mph) possible for the outer waters.— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) October 9, 2019
Dangerous boating conditions for all vessels as waves build up to 25 feet. https://t.co/3UeMprAcb7
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said travelers should be prepared for flight delays and cancellations at Logan International Airport. “Wind gusts in excess of 20 knots and low cloud ceilings will slow down airport capacity,” the agency wrote.
MEMA also said the Steamship Authority’s ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket could also be disrupted as a result of the storm. “Customers are advised to check the Authority’s website for further updates,” the agency wrote.