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Nor'easter to bring heavy wet snow, strong winds, flooding, power outages

Heavy wet snow, strong winds, and power outages are likely on Cape Cod and along the South Coast over the next few days as a major nor’easter rolls in.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm is expected to last from Monday night into Wednesday morning, and experts are concerned about flooding and erosion along the coasts.

The greatest impacts of this storm will take place between 6 a.m. Tuesday morning through Tuesday night, with high wind warnings in effect in Dukes, Barnstable and Nantucket counties. “Drier weather returns Thursday into early Friday,” according to the National Weather Service.

Cape Cod and the South Shore will likely see some of the most damaging wind gusts in the state. The storm could bring wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour from Plymouth to Provincetown, weather officials say.

Still, it’s not yet clear how much damage this storm could bring because questions remain about the exact direction of the wind, whether we’ll get more rain or snow, and the height of the waves.

But it’s enough for experts to urge residents to double check where their local shelter is, make sure cell phones are charged, and avoid travel on the roads as much as possible.

Greg Berman, a coastal geologist for Barnstable County, says coastal flooding and erosion along the shorelines are a concern, but the region is getting a bit lucky: local high tides aren’t as high as they could be.

“Astronomically with the phase of the moon, our high tides are at least two to three feet off of what they could be at their maximum. So we have that going for us,” he said. “Putting that in perspective, we had a kind of record-breaking storm back in 2018. And if we're talking about Cape Cod Bay, this particular storm would probably be two to three feet below the water level of that storm.”

But that doesn’t mean we’re in the clear.

“If we get sustained winds from the north, are we going to get estuaries, bays, those kinds of areas receiving one high tide, and not allowing the water to recede and then getting more high tides?” Berman said, pointing out that three high tides will hit during this storm.

With climate change, he warned, the region should expect higher water levels at baseline to lead to worse flooding during storms like these.

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.