MASSACHUSETTS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS STATEMENT
The National Weather Service is increasingly confident that southern New England will be significantly impacted by a strong/long duration coastal storm starting Thursday night and continuing through Saturday, which will bring moderate to major – and potentially life-threatening – coastal flooding to ocean-exposed shorelines, severe to extreme beach erosion, heavy rain and/or wet snow, strong to damaging winds, and some potential for power outages.
Rain will overspread the region starting late Thursday night and continue into Friday night. Two to three inches of rain, with potential for localized 4 – 5 inches, is expected to fall in southeastern Massachusetts, with 1.5 to 2 inches elsewhere. There is a high degree of uncertainty about changeover to snow. In higher elevation portions of Berkshire County north of the Mass Pike as well as in the Worcester Hills, rain will likely change over to heavy, wet snow starting Friday afternoon. There is greater uncertainty about snow in other areas of Massachusetts, where rain may change over to heavy wet snow Friday evening. Up to 4-6 inches of snow could fall in Berkshire County and the Worcester Hills with lower amounts elsewhere; however, given the uncertainty of the snow accumulation forecast remains highly uncertain at this time and actual snowfall totals could be considerably higher or lower than currently forecast.
High winds will begin starting early Friday morning, and will be at their strongest from approximately midday Friday through Friday night. High winds may persist into Saturday. Wind gusts will be 40-50 MPH, reaching as high as 60-75 MPH – and possibly upward of 80 – 90 mph during the peak time on Friday – along the immediate coast and over the Cape and Islands. Winds will gust between 40 – 50 mph in central MA, and up to 40 mph in western MA.
Tides will be astronomically high during the first few days of March. There is a substantial risk for moderate to major – and potentially life-threatening – coastal flooding along ocean-exposed portions of the eastern Massachusetts coast over multiple high tide cycles due to potential for a persistent and strong onshore E/NE wind. The late morning to midday Friday high tide, the Friday night high tide, and the Saturday midday high tide, remain the high tides of greatest concern, although following high tides could also present problems depending on how well the tides are able to go out. Storm surge during the low tide cycles may keep flood waters from significantly receding between the high tide cycles. In addition, waves will be upward of 35 feet offshore; coupled with the high tide waters, there is potential for property damage in area prone to coastal flooding. In addition, severe to potentially extreme beach erosion is anticipated for ocean-exposed shorelines, with significant to sever beach erosion possible for other shorelines.
Friday Late Morning High Tide:
- At this time, the coastline of greatest risk looks to be Salisbury/Newburyport to Plymouth. A preliminary storm surge of 3 to 3.5 feet is anticipated with waves building to between 20 and 30 feet just offshore. Moderate to major coastal flooding is expected in this area, and may require evacuations of some shoreline neighborhoods.
- Minor to moderate coastal flooding is possible along portions of the Cape, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard shorelines. Erosion all along east- and northeast-facing shorelines will likely be severe. The combination of fresh water runoff and high ocean water levels could exacerbate freshwater flooding in some coastal and estuary communities.
Friday Night High Tide:
- The shoreline of greatest risk for moderate to major coastal flooding for this tide looks to be Salisbury/Newburyport to Plymouth and to Dennis on the north side of the Cape. The astronomical high tide is about 3/4 of a foot less than the previous high tide cycle, but this could be largely offset by still higher surge and wave values. The potential exists for a surge of 3.5 to 4 feet along the coast from Salisbury/Newburyport to Dennis. Waves just offshore may be around 30 feet. Erosion for this tide cycle, too, is expected to be severe. The ocean side of the Cape, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard may experience moderate coastal flooding and severe erosion along east- facing shorelines. The combination of fresh water runoff and high ocean water levels could exacerbate freshwater flooding in some coastal and estuary communities.
Saturday Midday High Tide:
- All east-, northeast-, and north-facing shorelines are at risk for moderate to major coastal flooding. Although the onshore wind may have slackened some, we may still be dealing with a 3 to 4 foot surge along much of the coast from Salisbury/Newburyport to Eastham and possibly Chatham, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard as well. Waves of 20 to 30 feet just offshore are possible, and these would be longer period waves, which have a lot of energy and higher destructive potential.
- At least minor coastal flooding and minor to moderate beach erosion may persist through Sunday into Monday as surge and waves very slowly subside.
Other Storm Related Impacts:
- Strong wind gusts may cause tree damage and scattered power outages, especially in eastern Massachusetts. Hurricane force wind gusts over the Cape and Islands may result in property damage and numerous power outages.
- If we see heavy, wet snow, this combined with the strong winds may cause more significant power outages in areas that have accumulation.
- Heavy rain may cause street flooding in urban and poor-drainage areas and significant rises in rivers and streams. Some rivers and streams in southeastern Massachusetts may approach or exceed flood stage.
- Hurricane force wind gusts combined with 25-35 foot seas offshore will result in life-threatening conditions for mariners.
- High Tides Cycles for Friday and Saturday:
Location Fri AM Fri PM/Midnight Sat AM Newburyport 11:39 AM 12:06 AM 12:27 PM Plum Island 11:30 AM 12:06 AM 12:27 PM Gloucester Harbor 11:30 AM 11:58 PM 12:19 PM Lynn Harbor 11:22 AM 11:49 PM 12:09 PM Boston 1:15 AM 11:46 PM 12:05 PM Hingham 11:24 AM 11:55 PM 12:14 PM Scituate Harbor 11:20 AM 11:49 PM 12:09 PM Plymouth 11:26 AM 11:54 PM 12:14 PM Barnstable Harbor 11:26 AM 11:57 PM 12:16 PM Chatham 12:15 PM 12:47 AM 11:07 AM Provincetown 11:19 AM 11:50 PM 12:10 PM Nantucket 12:21 PM 12:52 AM 1:13 PM Martha’s Vineyard 11:52 AM 12:24 AM 12:48 PM