As the storm barreled up the East Coast, the high winds and rain were intensifying overnight and likely won’t die down until Wednesday afternoon, according to the weather service.
“For the Boston area, around midnight to 2 in the morning is when it will start to get to the height of the storm,” Andrew Loconto, a meteorologist at the weather service office in Norton, said in an interview. “In terms of the rainfall, the timing should be similar. . . . There will be a period after midnight overnight when it’s coming down pretty heavy.”
The storm’s effects were evident Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, when the lights went off in thousands of homes across the state. More than 38,000 electric customers were without power shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’s online map.
Some early outages had already been restored by early Wednesday morning. Beverly had more than 1,700 customers without electricity Tuesday evening, but just over 600 had no power by 1 a.m. Wednesday. Gloucester reported more than 3,200 outages, but that number later dropped to about 242. Further inland, Millville had an outage affecting more than 500 customers — 42 percent of electric users there — but power had been restored by 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Other communities outage trends were on the rise. Along the northern coastline, 1686 electric users in Rockport were without power just after 1 a.m. In Cohasset, on the South Shore, 99 percent of electric users, 3,806 total, were without power by early Wednesday morning.
Cohasset police had reported that electrical wires were down and the roadway was blocked at the intersection of Pond and Spring streets and that South Main Street was blocked by a tree that had fallen onto power lines between Beechwood Street and the Scituate line.
The weather service reported winds up to 60 miles per hour in Rockport and as high as 77 miles per hour in Hull just before 9 p.m. In Boston, winds reached 51 miles per hour at Logan International Airport about 8 p.m.
The storm is likely to make travel difficult during the morning rush hour, with street flooding in cities and areas with poor drainage, as well as rising water levels in rivers and streams, forecasters cautioned.
“We expect there to be some tree and potentially some power lines down” during the morning commute, Loconto said. “People might be dealing with branches or trees on the road.”
He said the storm likely would last through Wednesday morning and winds would remain high, in the range of 35 to 45 miles per hour, into the afternoon.
“People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches,” the weather service said. “If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows. Use caution if you must drive.”
On Cape Cod and the Islands, the storm was expected to whip up northeast winds of 35 to 45 miles per hour and gusts of up to 75 miles per hour. .
“Near the coastline, the winds will help drive the waves into the coast, so we’ll have areas of beach erosion,” Loconto said. “We really want to tell people to stay away from the coastline the best they can.”
The Steamship Authority canceled 10 ferry trips between Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven on Tuesday “due to weather conditions,” the authority said on its website, and it cautioned that further service disruptions were possible Wednesday.
Salem, which draws scores of Halloween visitors this week, announced ferry service from Boston was canceled Tuesday and Wednesday, due to the storm. The MBTA also announced it had canceled ferry service from Charlestown and Hingham on both days.
Loconto said residents should take precautions to prepare.
“It’s never a bad thing to have a kit prepared in case you do lose power,” he said. “Check the batteries in your flashlights, make sure those are in good working order. Check your generator, and make sure it’s outside.”
High wind warnings, which also included the Rhode Island coast, are in effect until Wednesday afternoon.
“This will be a dynamic system, meaning it will intensify as it approaches,’’ forecasters wrote in an Internet post. “Wind remains the greatest concern with this event … Strongest winds expected tonight, then diminishing Wednesday.”
The storm also is expected to dump heavy rain, with around 1.5 inches in the Berkshires and 4 inches toward the coast.
“Heavy rainfall may cause flooding of roads and ponding of water in low lying areas,” the forecasters said.
Minor coastal flooding is also possible. Forecasters said the high tides early Wednesday morning and early Wednesday afternoon were the main concerns.
The National Hurricane Center, which is keeping an eye on the storm, said on its website, “The extratropical low is expected to meander off the mid-Atlantic and northeast US coasts through Wednesday, bringing rain and wind impacts to portions of those areas.” The storm is expected to make an unusual counterclockwise loop before heading back out into the ocean.
The storm was already causing problems to the south as of midday Tuesday. As much as 3 inches of rain had already fallen on parts of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and, with the rain expected to continue for hours, meteorologists warned of the potential for intense flash flooding. Residents of the area were bracing for the worst after the disastrous storms there this summer.
By Thursday, the storm will have faded.
“Much quieter and mainly dry weather returns Thursday into at least part of Friday,’’ forecasters said in the Internet posting.
A rapidly strengthening nor’easter is expected to impact southern New England and the Northeast today and Wednesday, with high winds and heavy rain . Residents are advised to secure outdoor items and prepare for potential power outages.
— NWS Weather Prediction Center (@NWSWPC) October 26, 2021
John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from Globe news services was also used.