BOSTON — Gov. Maura Healey declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts Friday as the state braces for potentially damaging winds, rains, and floods stirred up by Hurricane Lee, a storm that is running up the East Coast and is expected to make landfall Saturday in Maine.
The latest emergency declaration includes the activation of up to 50 National Guard members to support storm preparations and response, including by operating highwater vehicles designed to deal with storm conditions.
Severe weather is not to be taken lightly, Healey said as she pointed to flooding earlier this week in Leominster and North Attleboro that wiped away roads and homes. Healey has declared a state of emergency in response to the floods there and a separate one last month in response to an emergency shelter crisis.
“Flooding, wind damage, downed trees, tree limbs, all of these things create real hazards and problems for people. We’ve also seen power outages. So we are mobilizing and have mobilized,” Healey said at the State House. “I declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts. I do this because it’s necessary to get assets in place before anything lands here in Massachusetts. It puts us in the best possible position to be able to respond in the ways that we need.”
Massachusetts joins Maine in declaring a state of emergency ahead of the storm. Healey also asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to issue a pre-disaster emergency declaration, which was granted in the Pine Tree State and allows for protective measures ahead of a disaster.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect early Friday afternoon for all of Massachusetts’ coastline, nearly all of Cape Cod, and Boston. Tropical conditions were possible Friday afternoon and into the evening with gusts up to 40 knots, according to the National Weather Service.
Hurricane Lee, a Category 1 storm, was forecasted to pass close to 200 miles off the east coast of Cape Cod but its wide wind field was expected to bring strong gusts to Massachusetts, said National Weather Service Boston Meteorologist Rob Megnia.
“We are going to be experiencing some tropical storm force winds, especially on Cape Cod and the Islands, they’re gonna catch the brunt of it. Along the east coast of Massachusetts, though, we’ll probably get to some tropical storm force wind gusts there as well,” Megnia told the Herald.
Megnia said Massachusetts will likely experience peak storm conditions between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. Saturday with noticeable improvements into the early afternoon.
“It’s going to be in and out pretty quick,” Megnia said.
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Dawn Brantley said even though the forecast calls for moderate impacts in the state from Hurricane Lee, a series of significant rain events with smaller amounts can impact infrastructure and people’s lives.
“Having an emergency declaration in place pre-event allows the commonwealth to mobilize resources and personnel. to prepare to request direct federal assistance through FEMA, and allows MEMA the ability to take the necessary actions to respond,” Brantley said at the State House.
Hurricane Lee is expected to make landfall in Maine on Saturday, where the National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm warning. As of 11 a.m. Friday, the storm was north-northeast at 18 miles per hour, according to the center.
Hurricane Lee was about 395 miles south-southeast of Nantucket and about 620 miles south-southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia as of 11 a.m. Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“Lee remains a large hurricane over the Western Atlantic,” an advisory from the center said. “Tropical storm conditions expected to begin across parts of coastal New England later this afternoon.”
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