PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Islanders were urged Friday to closely monitor the progress of a pre-Halloween superstorm as it barrels up the Atlantic coast.
The storm’s path remains uncertain, but meteorologists expect high winds, heavy rain and extreme tides up and down the coast, most likely beginning on Sunday in Rhode Island.
‘‘We’re taking it very seriously,’’ said Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who was briefed on the storm Friday. ‘‘The track could change, and people need to pay attention.’’
Hurricane Sandy is now near the Bahamas. It’s expected to move up the coast and collide with a winter storm moving across the country and frigid air from Canada. The storm is now projected to make landfall in Delaware or New Jersey.
If the storm should hit farther to the north, however, Rhode Island could receive heavy rain, powerful wind gusts, beach erosion and a significant chance of downed trees and power outages.
Providence officials said Friday afternoon they anticipate sustained winds of 30 to 50-mph and gusts of up to 70 or 80 mph.
Residents are advised to clear gutters and storm drains, secure outdoor furniture and trash bins and trim overgrown tree branches and bushes ahead of the storm. Boat owners are encouraged to remove their vessels from the water. Residents are reminded to have flashlights, extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, bottled water and non-perishable food on hand in the event of power outages. Motorists are encouraged to fuel their cars in the event that power outages close gas stations.
‘‘Now is a good time to check your preparedness,’’ said Annemarie Beardsworth, a spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency.
Chafee called on Rhode Islanders to finish their preparations by Saturday evening.
The superstorm forced some politicians to change campaign plans as they enter the final days before the Nov. 6 election. The campaign of Republican Congressional candidate Brendan Doherty said it would remove about 30 large signs beginning Saturday morning. Doherty encouraged voters to take down campaign yard signs, which he said could turn into dangerous projectiles in high winds.
Some organizations were adjusting Halloween events in advance of the storm, but the timing of its arrival means that many weekend events can go on as planned.
This weekend is typically a busy one at Providence’s Roger Williams Park Zoo, which has a children’s Halloween event scheduled alongside its annual Jack-O'-Lantern Spectacular, which features 5,000 carved pumpkins along a zoo trail. Organizers of the event plan to move the largest, best carved gourds — about 125 or so — inside before the storm. The event runs through Nov. 3.
The other pumpkins — nearly 5,000 of them — may get a little wet.
‘‘They will be left to the mercy of the storm’’ said zoo spokeswoman Janet Mariani.
National Grid said it is assigning people to crews and getting equipment ready to respond to power outages.
The state’s Department of Health urged those with special medical needs to enroll in the state’s Special Needs Emergency Registry in advance of the storm. Enrollment forms are available online at http://www.health.ri.gov/emregistry.