By MARK ALAN LOVEWELL
Tropical storm Hanna kicked up seas, brought wind and rain, but had a lot less punch than anticipated. Harbor masters and shipyard owners were relieved following several days of preparations. By the time the storm arrived Saturday, the forecasted heavy rains and high winds were somewhere else.
The storm delivered less than an inch of rainfall. Wind gusts were only gale force, not much more than a one-day northeaster. Harbor masters said boats did well. Surfers were the biggest beneficiaries of the storm. Surfers were spotted working big storm waves along the south shore up-Island, though neither day was a good day to go swimming because of concerns about rip tide.
Most of the wind power of the storm was aloft.
Bill Simpson, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Taunton, said yesterday the hurricane-like winds were overhead. “The winds aloft were howling, but it didn’t get down to the surface. The center of the storm passed just east of Providence. They had 44 miles per hour sustained winds with gusts to 56 miles per hour,” Mr. Simpson said. The lowest barometric pressure was 29.36 inches and was recorded at Conanicut Light in Warwick.
Further evidence of the strength of the storm came from a weather balloon sent up in Chatham, which recorded 55 mph winds at 5,000 feet, at 7 a.m. Sunday.
A weather service buoy at Horseshoe Shoals in Nantucket Sound recorded 40 mph winds with a gust to 48 mph at 12:50 a.m. Sunday morning, according to Mr. Simpson.
Preparations for the storm began last Wednesday. Phil Hale, president of Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard, said there was a lot of concern in Edgartown about the significance of an opening at Norton Point Beach and what a storm might do to the boats in the harbor.
As many as 40 boats in Edgartown harbor were towed to Vineyard Haven by the shipyard. They were taken in small trains, several at a time. Those boats kept in the inner harbor, Mr. Hale said, were moved to moorings closer to the Chappaquiddick side.
Jay Wilbur, harbor master of Vineyard Haven, said preparations in his harbor were better than expected. He said he saw boat owners heed the warnings and check lines. “We alerted a lot of people and they responded. People at the shipyard were right on the scene,” Mr. Wilbur said.
Sailors participating in the George Moffett memorial sailboat race on Saturday had a fun sail. Mr. Wilbur said there was enough wind for the race, and the rains held off until after the sail. In the span of 24 hours, the National Weather Service station in Edgartown recorded .88 inches of rain. Most of it came Saturday afternoon between 2 and 3 p.m.
Bill Roman, manager of the Edgartown Yacht Club, said preparations began days before the storm. The club has a contract weather bureau providing three-hourly updates. When it came to making a decision on how to respond, Mr. Roman said it was better to err in caution. They prepared for a storm surge that would rise a foot above the clubhouse dance floor. In anticipation, crews put in hours lifting valuable items off the floor and putting them higher up. Gear was put on the bandstand stage in the club, because it is a foot higher than the floor. Stoves were lifted up and put on blocks. Small portable refrigerators were raised and put on counters.
As the storm got closer, Mr. Roman said he looked across the harbor and saw the community responding. Boat owners hauled their boats. Boats still at their moorings were checked.
“Most of the docks were empty,” Mr. Roman said, “which is a good thing. You don’t want a boat at the dock during a storm.”
The storm surge didn’t happen.
Dennis Jason, Chilmark harbor master, said Menemsha was quiet, though there were some strong winds.
By Sunday morning, skies were clear and the air was dry and warm. There were small branches on the roads across the Island. Fortunately, Hanna was hardly a gale, let alone a tropical storm when she arrived here.