The Massachusetts coast was under a storm warning Thursday as Tropical Storm Beryl swirled northward in the Atlantic Ocean, and parts of Long Island and Connecticut were told to prepare for foul weather.

The tropical storm warning extended from Plymouth south to Woods Hole, including Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The warning means tropical storm conditions are expected in the next 24 hours. The storm may bring in tides of 1 to 3 feet above normal.

A tropical storm watch, meaning tropical storm conditions are possible within 36 hours, was issued for eastern Long Island and parts of the Connecticut and Massachusetts coasts.

"It's going to be in many ways much like you get in some of the wintertime storms," said Daniel Brown, a hurricane specialist in Miami. "It's going to be some wind and rain, but it's not going to be anything tremendous like a hurricane."

Harbormaster Tom Leech said that the storm flag was raised at Harwich on Cape Cod and that he had been advising boat owners to double up on their mooring lines.

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At Nantucket Moorings, workers were busy Thursday making sure their customers' boats were tied down securely, but they weren't panicking.

Kristine Larsen, an assistant manager at Larsen's Fish Market on Martha's Vineyard, said the shop is prepared with a generator if it loses power.

"What are you gonna do? We can't physically pick the building up and move, so you just have to hope for the best," she said.

At 8 p.m. EDT, Beryl was centered about 135 miles southwest of Nantucket, moving northeast at about 12 mph. It was expected to pass near or over the island and southeastern Cape Cod early Friday.

Maximum sustained winds were about 50 mph, and the storm was expected to slowly weaken overnight.

The Coast Guard said it was monitoring more than 50 commericial fishing vessels still in New England waters in the storm's path at mid-evening, and urged them to return to port before the storm passed through.

A record 28 named storms and 15 hurricanes, including destructive Katrina, occurred during last year's June-November Atlantic hurricane season.

The first named storm of the 2006 season, Tropical Storm Alberto, swept over Florida in mid-June, then plowed northward along the coast past the Outer Banks. It was blamed for one drowning.