Barnstable County officials are warning residents to take precautions and secure their boats as a hurricane watch takes effect on Cape Cod and the Islands.
The National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center issued hurricane watches for the Cape and Islands as well as most of the South Coast of New England Friday morning. The watches will remain in effect as tropical storm Henri heads toward the region and is forecast to strengthen to hurricane force.
The potential hurricane strike would be the first in Massachusetts in almost exactly 30 years. The last hurricane — Bob — made landfall in New England in 1991, and Henri could be the storm that everyone says “is long overdue."
Damaging winds and rough seas are expected in protected areas, so Barnstable County emergency response officials are urging people to secure their boats or take them out of the water.
The expected track of the storm shifted further west Friday afternoon and night, putting it on an expected path over parts of Long Island and Connecticut, moving the strongest effects away from eastern Massachusetts, at least for now.
Vessels moored in high-energy areas such as Lewis Bay and Hyannis Port will lose the protection of the breakwater during high tide, officials said. They are warning mariners that wharfs, launches and haul-out areas will likely have heavy traffic.
One boat owner in Sandwich said he expects boats will safe.
"My boat is going no place. 99% will stay here," boat owner Charlie Foote said. "Sandwich marina is one of the best marinas around… even during nor’easters it’s out of harms way."
Boater Scott Iarrobino remembers Hurricane Bob, and he's planning to stay put.
"Going to tie some extra lines up to it, more bumpers out, just making it secure," he said. "The dock will ride up and down with me."
A hurricane of any strength is enough for power companies to move crews into position.
"We have approximately 1,000 line, tree and service crews ready to support restoration efforts in Massachusetts, but we're continuing to work to add more," said William Hinkle of Eversource.
Officials said people should know evacuation routes, prepare for power outages and check in with neighbors.