Weather forecasters warned today that Tropical Storm Danny may drench Massachusetts with several inches of rain Saturday, the day of Senator Edward M. Kennedy's funeral in Boston as well as a big move-in day for students in the academic mecca.
The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm watch this morning for some offshore areas south of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and east of Cape Cod, warning of tropical storm force winds and seas building to 15 feet Saturday night. The service later issued a flood watch for parts of Massachusetts, warning that rapid and substantial rises were expected on tributaries.
Rain is expected to start early Saturday in the city and 2 to 4 inches could fall by the end of Saturday. Higher rain totals are expected on Cape Cod and the islands.
Danny may clip Nantucket about 8 p.m. Saturday as it takes a turn to the northeast, when the wind is expected to be howling near 46 miles per hour.
"I think rain is going to be more of a headline than the wind," said Frank Nocera, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton.
As if the Kennedy funeral and students moving into their dorms weren't enough to keep the city busy, the city's Caribbean Festival is also scheduled to start in a nearby neighborhood a few hours after the funeral begins, and a Red Sox game is expected to lure fans to Fenway Park Saturday night. To deal with all the activity, police plan put 1,000 to 2,000 officers on the streets, the Globe reported this morning.
Danny is a particularly disorganized storm, which means its actual path could vary significantly, according to the Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
"This storm is so discombobulated at this point," Feltgen said. "The storm could become even more disconnected, which would be good news for the Northeast."
What seems certain, however, is that Boston will endure a steady drumbeat of rain on Saturday, a deluge expected to persist during the funeral, which will draw presidents and other dignitaries.
“It won’t be a pleasant weekend for any outdoor plans," Feltgen said.
“The storm’s effects will be felt over the next day or so all over the East Coast with dangerous surf conditions and life-threatening rip currents,” Feltgen said.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation will prohibit swimming at several beaches Saturday because of the storm's threat of strong rip currents and rough seas, according to Wendy Fox, a DCR spokesperson. Those beaches are Horseneck Beach in Westport, Nahant Beach in Nahant, Nantasket Beach in Hull, Revere Beach in Rever, Salisbury Beach in Salisbury, and Winthrop Beach in Winthrop.
The agency also announced that public ferry service would be canceled Saturday from Boston's Long Wharf, Quincy, Hingham, and Hull to and among the Boston Harbor islands.
Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Steve Kass said in a statement that mariners should be in port by late afternoon Friday and stay in port until the storm passes. He added that swimmers should exercise caution and rip currents could last until Sunday afternoon.
Tropical Storm Danny currently has maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour as it churns about 830 miles south-southwest of Nantucket. The storm may strengthen slightly today.
Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
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