Sandy becomes hurricane; likelihood seen increasing that it will affect New England
It is looking less likely that Hurricane Sandy, which is churning its way toward New England from the Caribbean, will simply slide by the region, the National Weather Service says.
“There’s some confidence we will probably be impacted but to what extent is still very uncertain,” Weather Service meteorologist Hayden Frank said Wednesday night.
Meteorologists have been keeping a close eye on Sandy, saying that it could miss the region entirely, brush by it, or slam directly into it early next week. But Wednesday night computer models began to suggest that the region will not go unscathed.
The hurricane, which had intensified from a tropical storm, was carrying 85-mile-per-hour winds at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. The Category 1 hurricane was moving north through the Caribbean at 14 miles per hour, about 60 miles north of Jamaica, the Weather Service in Taunton said.
If the hurricane does touch down in New England, it will most likely hit on Monday through Tuesday of next week, Frank said.
A direct-hit scenario would have “huge implications” in New England, the Weather Service said in a forecast discussion posted Wednesday.
A direct hit could bring strong winds that would topple trees that have not yet dropped their leaves. That could cause widespread power outages, while waves and winds pound the coast, eroding beaches and causing coastal flooding. Heavy rain could also cause flooding in the interior, the Weather Service said.
The other possibility, a “close pass,” would whip up strong winds and high seas and might produce coastal flooding and power outages, the Weather Service said.
“There’s tremendous uncertainty,” Frank said of which scenario will play out.
But the Weather Service emphasized in the Web discussion that “there is greater weight towards scenarios of . . . a close pass . . . or a direct hit.”
It said the “best advice is to be tuned to the latest forecasts” and be “prepared for every scenario.”
Oceanfront communities are watching Sandy closely, and some are taking precautions against potentially destructive wind and surf.
Jill Buckley, business manager for the Scituate harbor master, said that most private boats have been taken out of the marina, but that the commercial fleet will also be taken out of the water, along with the harbor master’s boats. “The season ended last week, so we’re in pretty good shape as far as boats,” Buckley said.
The harbor master decided to call in a crane early to pull floats out of the marina before the storm makes its way to New England, she said. “We were going to do it next week, but we want to get them out by Friday just in case we get some wind up here.”Globe correspondent Melanie Dostis contributed to this report. Melissa Werthmann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; Martin Finucane at email@example.com.