Henri Is Expected to Become a Hurricane and May Bring Rain, Wind and Storm Surge Impacts to Parts of Northeast

At a Glance

  • Henri is expected to strengthen into a hurricane over the western Atlantic.
  • Henri will likely track close to eastern New England and Long Island late weekend into early next week.
  • Hurricane and tropical storm watches have been issued for parts of the the Northeast.

Tropical Storm Henri is expected to strengthen into a hurricane over the Atlantic, but its exact path and strength when it draws closer to New England are still uncertain.

Residents of the Northeast U.S., especially New England and Long Island, should monitor Henri’s progress closely since it may bring wind, rain and storm surge impacts to parts of the region late this weekend into early next week.

A hurricane watch has been issued for Long Island from Fire Island Inlet and from Port Jefferson Harbor eastward, as well as from New Haven, Connecticut, to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts, including Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island. A hurricane watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical storm force winds. Hurricane conditions are possible in the watch areas Sunday.

A tropical storm watch has been issued west of Fire Island Inlet to East Rockaway Inlet, west of Port Jefferson Harbor and west of New Haven. A tropical storm watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.

Related: Flash flood warnings issued for DC region

A storm surge watch has also been issued for the south shore of Long Island from East Rockaway Inlet eastward to Montauk, on the north shore of Long Island from Kings Point eastward to Montauk, as well as from Kings Point to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts, including Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island.

(MAPS: Track Henri Here)

The forecast trend includes more impacts in New England with each successive update from the National Hurricane Center.

Henri is located 800 miles south-southwest of Nantucket, Massachusetts, or midway between Bermuda and Florida, and is moving west-northwest.

The storm is somewhat disorganized right now because it’s battling wind shear and dry air. However, wind shear is expected to begin to weaken later Friday and Henri will be tracking across very warm water. This should result in strengthening, likely into a hurricane.

Forecast Track, Intensity Uncertain

Henri is forecast to turn toward the northwest on Friday, followed by a turn toward the north and eventually the north-northeast. This more northerly track will be influenced by the steering from a ridge of high pressure over the north-central Atlantic and an upper-level disturbance over the eastern U.S.

Henri’s circulation center is likely to move within the forecast path shown below, but whether this track is directly into New England or just off the East Coast will be determined by the outcome of the steering pattern mentioned above. Impacts will spread well beyond this cone.

For now, the National Hurricane Center forecasts Henri to be weakening from a Category 1 hurricane to a strong tropical storm as it approaches New England because the system will encounter cooler waters and some possible increased wind shear during that time.

Henri’s forward progress could also slow down on approach to New England because of blocking high pressure to its north over Quebec.

Potential Impacts

The bottom line is that Henri could bring wind, rain and storm surge impacts to at least parts of New England and Long Island beginning as soon as the late weekend. Those in New England and Long Island should keep up to date and make preparations for possible impacts.

Storm Surge

The NWS mentions that tides will also be running higher than normal this weekend due to the full moon, which could worsen the impact of any storm surge flooding. The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide could cause the water to reach the following heights above ground if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide:

-Watch Hill, Rhode Island, to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts, including Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay: 3 to 5 feet

-East Rockaway Inlet, New York, to Montauk Point, New York, the north shore of Long Island and from Kings Point, New York, to Watch Hill, Rhode Island: 2 to 4 feet

-Cape May, New Jersey, to East Rockaway Inlet, New York: 1 to 3 feet.

Wind

Tropical storm force winds could reach southern New England by Sunday morning and could be prolonged once they arrive. Hurricane force winds are also a concern in the hurricane watch area for Sunday.

The strongest winds will likely be focused east of the track of Henri’s center.

The National Hurricane Center noted on Thursday that the wind field of Henri should grow in size the farther north it tracks. That means impacts could occur quite a distance away from where the actual center of Henri tracks.

Rainfall

Rainfall totals of 2 to 5 inches, with isolated maximum totals of 8 inches, are expected over southern New England Sunday into Monday. Heavy rainfall may result in flash flooding and small stream flooding. Much of this region has experienced a very wet summer and recently received heavy rainfall from the remnant of Fred, meaning flooding is a significant threat.

The heaviest rain from Henri is expected to be along and west of its track.

High Surf, Rip Currents

One impact from Henri that is more certain is that it will send increased swells to the East Coast by late week.

High surf and life-threatening rip currents could impact beaches from parts of the Southeast to the mid-Atlantic by the end of the week. The high surf and rip currents will then spread northward up the East Coast this weekend.


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