French Toast Alert Level: 1 Slice / Low.
Post-Henri update: Wake us up in time for the first snowstorm ...
Update, Sunday, 9:15 a.m. The NWS has issued a tropical storm warning that comes right up to the border of Suffolk County, so keep those French Toast fixin's dry. Expect to see rain followed by, um, not rain, followed by more rain as Henri bands come across the area, , as seen in the NWS radar image above.
Update, Saturday, 11 p.m. The latest Cone of Uncertainty shows Henri's center might miss Long Island and come ashore at the Rhode Island/Connecticut line (but the National Hurricane Center says it might still hit Long Island first). The net effect on the Greater French Toast Region forecast, however, is none: We're still expected to get some wind and some rain, but nothing near hurricane or even tropical-storm strength. As the storm leaves southern New England on Monday, though, we might get more rain.
But the local NWS office says don't go putting that umbrella back up just yet: One out of every three hurricanes hits outside the Cone of Uncertainty.
Update, Saturday, 10 a.m. We've backed down to just 2 slices/Guarded because it's now looking pretty certain that the storm will ram into Long Island and the Connecticut, which means, the NWS says, the Greater French Toast Region can expect maybe an inch of rain and maybe some tropical-storm-force winds. Or as Eric Fisher says: "Not huge in the Boston area." Still, Sunday night might not be the best time to drive down to New York.
Update, Friday, 11:10 p.m. The latest NWS track has Henri getting here a bit faster than expected, still looking at Long Island and Connecticut as landfall spots, but "hurricane conditions are possible late Saturday night or Sunday across portions of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts," the National Hurricane Center says. So the Greater French Toast Area looks to avoid the brunt of the storm but we'll still at 3 Slices/Elevated because we could still seem some brisk gusts and more rain falling on already saturated ground and rivers. Might be wise to avoid Morrissey Boulevard, trees.
Update, Friday, 6 p.m. The latest NWS track now has Henri slamming into Long Island first, then head north through Connecticut. So they get hurricane warnings, while the southern coastal regions of Massachusetts gets watches. For us in the Greater French Toast Area? We'll still get rain and wind, especially wind. Still, might be an idea to take down the patio umbrella and not stand under any trees.
Update, Friday, 12 p.m. The latest NWS discussion shows Henri making landfall slightly further west, like maybe Connecticut, and later on Sunday. But still a good time to get ready.
Update, Friday, 9:20 a.m. The National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch this morning for the Cape and Islands, southern Plymouth County and the South Coast - not all that far from Newport, RI, where it now expects Henri to come ashore as a Category 1 hurricane around 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Then, instead of veering out to sea as initially thought, it will plow up the Blackstone Valley, winding up as a tropical storm right over Worcester by 2 a.m. on Monday.
Although the Watch areas will bear the worst of the storm - which could include damage from hurricane-force winds, coastal surges and all that rain, people further out, like, in, oh, the Boston area, should be prepared for rain and wind issues as well, NWS says.
Update, Thursday, 11:30 p.m. The National Hurricane Center is now looking at Henri making landfall along the South Coast as a tropical storm around 8 p.m. on Sunday. We could still see significant winds and flooding. Eric Fisher explains why all the rain we've gotten of late, including today, could mean particular problems.
Update, Thursday p.m. Nantucket? Uh, oh. The National Hurricane Center adds:
Henri is forecast to be near the northeast coast of the U.S. on Sunday and Monday, and the risks of storm surge, wind, and rain impacts in portions of southern New England and eastern Long Island are increasing.
Thursday a.m. Henri still looking like a possibility to slap us upside the head, although the question of whether we get a direct hit or not remains, um, up in the air, as the National Hurricane Center says:
The biggest point here is that it's still too soon to know exactly how close Henri's center will get to the coast of New England.
And, of course, given how large hurricanes tend to be, we don't need to see the eye pass right over us to see damage, so maybe start compiling a list of all the hatches you'll need to batten down.
The French Toast Alert System has been developed in consultation with local and federal emergency officials to help you determine when to panic and rush to the store to buy milk, eggs and bread.
1 Slice / Low: No storm predicted. Harvey Leonard sighs and looks dour on the evening news. Go about your daily business but consider buying second refrigerator for basement, diesel generator. Good time to replenish stocks of maple syrup, cinnamon.
2 Slices / Guarded: Light snow predicted. Subtle grin appears on Harvey Leonard's face. Check car fuel gauge, memorize quickest route to emergency supermarket should conditions change.
3 Slices / Elevated: Moderate, plowable snow predicted. Harvey Leonard openly smiles during report. Empty your trunk to make room for milk, eggs and bread. Clear space in refrigerator and head to store for an extra gallon of milk, a spare dozen eggs and a new loaf of bread.
4 Slices / High: Heavy snow predicted. Harvey Leonard breaks into huge grin, can't keep his hands off the weather map. Proceed at speed limit before snow starts to nearest supermarket to pick up two gallons of milk, a couple dozen eggs and two loaves of bread - per person in household.
5 Slices / Severe: Nor'easter predicted. This is it, people, THE BIG ONE. Harvey Leonard makes repeated references to the Blizzard of '78. RUSH to emergency supermarket NOW for multiple gallons of milk, cartons of eggs and loaves of bread. IGNORE cries of little old lady you've just trampled in mad rush to get last gallon of milk. Place pets in basement for use as emergency food supply if needed.
Busy person? Follow the French Toast Alert System on Twitter or on Facebook; stay up to the moment with the proper panic level.
Busy developer type person? Use the French Toast Alert data set to build those state-of-the-art iPhone apps.
Put the French Toast Alert System on your site! Copy and paste the following where you want the alert to show up. It's 124 pixels wide by 126 pixels high:
Become the alert: Buy an official French Toast Alert T-shirt and run around updating your neighbors:
Toastaphon: Toast image derived from this French Toast sammich photo by Bunchofpants.