As Hurricane Joaquin churned up through the southern Atlantic late this week, Islanders woke up with a jolt from the endless summer that has been the enduring hallmark of September weather. Now October has arrived with a series of unstable weather systems. Drenching rains and gusty southeasterly winds have driven all but the hardiest fishermen indoors this week for the next-best pastime: watching the weather channel.

Storm-tossed seas and astronomical tides have torn a new opening at Norton Point beach off Chappaquiddick, although unlike the last breach in 2007, this one is expected to be short-lived.

Meanwhile, at press time forecasters were still uncertain about the track of Joaquin. It’s a good reminder that despite big advances in hurricane tracking over the past twenty years, weather patterns remain just capricious enough to keep the skeptics among us skeptical and the planners preparing for the worst.

And this week there were plenty of signs that Islanders were taking even the distant threat of a hurricane seriously. Shipyards were doing a brisk business hauling boats, and the Steamship Authority alerted travelers that it was keeping a close eye on weather forecasts.

Whether it is Joaquin or another storm further down the alphabet, whether it is this year or next or the year after, the Vineyard will inevitably see another hurricane.

And each threat should be taken seriously. Stock up on water, nonperishable food, candles and matches, flashlights and batteries. Renew your prescriptions and check your first aid supplies. Fill the tank of your car with gas, charge your cell phone and computer. Keep the yard picked up — loose clay pots and summer furniture still not packed away can become dangerous flying missiles in high winds. If you own a boat, remember to stay in touch with your harbor master and be responsible about securing it in a storm. Boats adrift are not only at risk for loss, but they can pose extreme hazards to others at sea.

Vineyard emergency managers have been meeting regularly this year and a new comprehensive regional plan is now in place that includes opening a regional shelter at the Oak Bluffs School in the event of a severe storm or disaster. But with storms so much a part of the fabric of life on an Island, there is widespread recognition that many people prefer — and are sometimes better off — sheltering in place, especially when roads are flooded or impassable.

FEMA, MEMA and the National Hurricane Center sites all provide good hurricane preparedness information. When a storm threatens, the Gazette regularly posts updates and information on its website.

One of these days, the preparations will matter.