For Immediate Release - August 22, 2009

Saturday, 8/22, 11:00 a.m. - Governor's Statement on Hurricane Bill

I want to give you an update on the progress of Hurricane Bill, based on early morning briefings by the National Weather Service, MEMA and the emergency management officials on Cape Cod.

The National Weather Service has now issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the Cape and Islands. The Hurricane continues to travel in a northward direction. The center of the storm is still projected to pass approximately 150 miles off the southeast coast of Nantucket. But it is now projected to impact us earlier - we expect tropical storm winds by 9PM this evening, with the most intense period between midnight tonight and early Sunday morning, and then diminishing through the day. That means people out this evening on the outer Cape and the Islands should exercise special caution.

We also expect severe thunderstorms and heavy rain related to the Hurricane from Worcester County west to the New York state line throughout the day today, much as we experienced yesterday afternoon in Berkshire County.

The caution to boaters is unchanged. On the Cape and Islands, boaters should expect high seas - with swells up to 25 feet SE of Nantucket, 15 to 20 feet south of Martha's Vineyard, Block Island and along the outer Cape. Pleasure boaters should avoid the area around the outer Cape and the Islands this weekend. If boaters have questions about these or any other forecasts or warnings, they should contact the Coast Guard directly. If practical, pleasure boats should come out of the water or be secured in a marina. Boaters should not remain on board through the storm.

There is some new information for swimmers. The warning of dangerous rip currents has been extended to the entire East Coast of the Commonwealth throughout this weekend. The water and waves will be unsafe even for strong swimmers. All beaches on Nantucket and several beaches on the Vineyard and outer Cape are or soon will be closed to swimmers. Swimming advisories will be posted locally.

Again, people traveling on or off the Islands this weekend should just check the availability of ferry service before you set out, especially given the change in the projected time of impact of the storm.

We still do not at this point anticipate having to open shelters or to evacuate residents. But emergency supplies and personnel are in place on the Cape, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard just in case. Most people should prepare to shelter in place if the storm conditions worsen. That means having a supply of water, candles, matches and some food in the event of a temporary loss of power.

The state Public Safety and MEMA team, the Red Cross and the emergency officials on the Cape and Islands continue to do a great job monitoring the conditions and preparing. Thanks to them, the public should feel confident that we are ready. We will stay alert, keep our weather eye out, and relay any updated information as soon as we get it.