Ken McKinley of Locus Weather in Camden said Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall in New Jersey sometime Sunday. He said the storm system — which has been responsible for widespread destruction and fatalities in Cuba, Jamaica and the Bahamas, according to published reports — was "just north" of the Bahamas, having wreaked havoc with 100 mph winds Friday, Oct. 26.

"It's still a hurricane but it won't be by the time it gets to the Northeastern U.S.," McKinley said. "It will still be a very powerful system."

He said he expects the weather system — if it remains on course — to arrive in Midcoast Maine at the beginning of Halloween week.

McKinley said Midcoast Mainers can expect "strong winds and fairly significant rain" through the beginning of the week. Winds of 30 to 40 mph locally are "not out of the question," he said. He emphasized the large size of the system.

"By the time it gets here it will be a large area of bad weather," he explained, noting that a hurricane, by definition, has a concentrated core which he expects will be weakened significantly by the time the storm hits Maine.

McKinley said he anticipates the bulk of the winds blow from the northeast, and added that "most harbors around here" are fairly well-protected from directional winds of that nature. Tides, however, could pose a significant concern.

"One of the biggest issues is probably the tides," McKinley said.

He noted that tides will be at their peak — or "astronomical high" — during the storm, and that a combination of high winds and low pressure associated with the storm system could compound tides that are already higher than average. He acknowledged the potential for "minor coastal flooding" during the storm.

McKinley added downed limbs and some power outages can likely be expected as a result of the system. McKinley said many boaters elect to move boats south on Nov. 1 and he anticipates the storm will have some effect on their scheduled departure.

"I don't think it's going to be catastrophic," he said. "The track through the middle of the week is uncertain."

Rockport Harbor Master Abbie Leonard said the dates of the storm are convenient since docks would be removed for the winter as part of annual procedure.

"The time of year is pretty good because we're pulling stuff anyway," she said.

She noted the commercial dock will likely be the only one remaining in the water. She explained it's been a bit of a scramble to make preparations, but it's helpful to not have to pick and choose what docks to leave in, as is the case when a nasty storm hits during high boating season. She said she has heard some concern about the storm.

"You have people who are 'gloom and doom' and people that are always skeptics," she explained.

Director of Knox County Emergency Management Agency Ray Sisk said residents should try to keep themselves informed about the system as it approaches. He said activities akin to battening down the proverbial hatches, such as cleaning gutters and making sure there is nothing loose on a property that could pose a danger if it were blown away, are appropriate.

"The informed piece is probably one of the most important ones at this point," Sisk said. He said it's possible that the storm could change course and not hit the Midcoast Maine area.

"We may only see this on The Weather Channel," he said, but advised that preparedness is important nonetheless.

"If folks are on the fence about pulling a small boat, go ahead and do that this weekend. It's a good time to clean the gutters," he said.

McKinley said the storm "may meander" and he expects it will "hang around the Northeast for most of next week."

Hurricane Season is "nominally" considered June 1 through Nov. 30, McKinley explained, adding that hurricanes can occur outside of hurricane season as well.

Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at jlookner@courierpublicationsllc.com.