Much of Cape Cod is shutting down in anticipation of a blizzard that is forecast to bring high winds and heavy snow to the region this weekend.
Area safety officials held a conference call Thursday afternoon to discuss storm preparation plans.
Frank O'Laughlin, a member of the Cape Cod Amateur Radio Emergency Services, gave a tentative forecast to Cape police departments, NStar spokesmen and other regional public safety organizations at 1 p.m.
Cape Cod could get anywhere from 8 to 12 inches of snow, "maybe more," and wind gusts up to 80 mph, he said.
"Winds are a big factor," he said. "I hope snow isn't there when that happens."
A handful of NStar crews were stationed across the Cape on Thursday afternoon in Sandwich, Mashpee, Falmouth, Truro and Chatham, said Dennis Galvam, a spokesman for NStar.
Another NStar spokesman, Michael Durand, said the crews were spread out over the Cape "for a quicker response" if outages occur.
With high winds and heavy snow, power outages are possible. There are some key items that should be in residents' storm kits in the event of extended outages, according to a statement from NStar. Along with canned food and bottled water, NStar recommends a flashlight and spare batteries, a battery-operated TV or radio, first-aid kits, baby and pet supplies and a list of important phone numbers.
Travel will be severely impeded during the weekend. Cape Air has canceled all Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York flights on Friday and Saturday and advised customers to check the status of Sunday flights.
The Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority may cancel ferry service as early as 9:15 a.m. today, and it could be suspended until Sunday, according to its website.
Plymouth & Brockton bus company service to Boston will operate on a weekend schedule starting Friday, but the company could cancel afternoon services, according to its website. Peter Pan bus routes north of New York are canceled, including Cape stops in Falmouth and Bourne.
The Yarmouth Police Department posted snow driving tips on its Facebook page, should Cape residents need to go out in the snow for supplies. It also warned that snowplows have limited sight lines and make wider turns than other vehicles, so drivers should exercise caution when near them.
No shelters will be opened before the storm, Dennis Police Chief Michael Whalen said. "We're going to wait and assess," he said.
The Dennis police station will serve as an emergency warming shelter, according to a police statement, and other shelters will be opened as needed.
Aside from the snow and winds, flooding is another problem for which a number of Cape towns are preparing. With Sandwich Harbor a moderate risk, Police Chief Peter Wack and his team are ready, he said. "Whenever we do have a storm, there's flooding concerns."
As of Thursday afternoon, 2- to 3-foot storm surges were expected, which he said was not extraordinary, but high winds make things unpredictable.
Flooding is also a risk in Chatham, and Chatham Police Chief Mark Pawlina said emergency personnel are on standby, and he was prepared to deploy them Friday morning as needed.
By Thursday evening, many Cape school districts had announced that students would be dismissed early Friday and most after-school activities had been canceled.
Mashpee, Falmouth, Monomoy (Chatham-Harwich), Dennis-Yarmouth, Barnstable and Sandwich school districts will dismiss students hours earlier than usual today. Cape Cod Community College will close at 1 p.m. and remain closed through the weekend.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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