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October 27, 2012

Beaches brace for Sandy's fury

Towns, beaches prepare in advance of hurricane


The National Weather Service in Taunton said that the current models predict Newburyport will experience winds of 20 to 30 mph and heavy precipitation throughout Monday into Tuesday. The coastal areas could also experience high seas and a storm surge of up to six feet, which could be exacerbated by the astronomical high tide caused by the full moon.

“But that wind forecast is assuming that the center of circulation were to travel over central New Jersey,” said Kim Buttrich, a NWS meteorologist. “If the storm were to encroach further north, the forecast would be very different for Monday. Much stronger winds, a much bigger impact.”

With memories of Tropical Storm Irene and last year’s late-October snowstorm still fresh, the power companies are already taking steps to prepare for widespread outages. National Grid, the Unitil Corporation and the Edison Electric Institute have all begun drawing up response plans for when the storm hits, and additional crews are being brought in from as far away as Michigan to assist. The Edison Institute stated yesterday that this is the largest storm to hit the Northeast in 100 years.

In Newburyport, city officials gathered yesterday morning to discuss preparations for the storm. Among the issues they discussed is asking residents to watch storm drains near their homes and keep them clear of leaves. Officials are concerned that falling leaves will choke the city’s drainage system and will cause flooding.

The Newburyport Salvation Army announced that it will be opening its doors to people seeking shelter from the storm, much like it did last year when Irene hit.

On Plum Island, bystanders and TV news crews gathered yesterday to watch a bulldozer push sand up the beach in order to protect a handful of vulnerable homes along Annapolis Way. Added to the scraping zone was the adjacent 132-year-old Bennett Hill house, a landmark on Plum Island.

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