Tropical Storm Henri heads for US north-east with hurricane status likely

  • Forecasters predict landfall in Long Island or Connecticut
  • New England has not been hit by hurricane since 1991

Parts of the US north-east could begin to experience the effects of Tropical Storm Henri late on Saturday, as the system that is expected to become a hurricane barrels toward the region.

Storm surge and the tide could cause high water in coastal New England as Henri moves inland, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in an advisory. Heavy rain and wind may also produce flooding.

Forecasters said Henri was expected to become a hurricane on Saturday. It was expected to be at or near hurricane strength when it makes landfall mid-afternoon on Sunday, which the NHC said could be in New York’s Long Island or southern New England, most likely Connecticut.

Henri was veering a bit further west than originally expected. If that track held it would have eastern Long Island in its bullseye rather than New England, which hasn’t taken a direct hit from a hurricane since Hurricane Bob in 1991, a category two storm that killed at least 17.

New York hasn’t had a direct hit from a major hurricane season storm since Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc in 2012.

Broad impacts were expected inland to Hartford, Connecticut and Albany, New York and eastward to Cape Cod, which is teeming with tourists. The Massachusetts governor, Charlie Baker, urged people vacationing on the Cape to leave well before Henri hits, and those who planned to start vacations there to delay their plans.

“We don’t want people to be stuck in traffic on the Cape Cod bridges when the storm is in full force on Sunday,” he said.

Henri was centered on Saturday morning about 195 miles south-east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and about 555 miles south of Montauk Point, New York. It was a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds at 70mph, and was moving north-northeast at 12mph.

Governor Ned Lamont warned Connecticut residents to prepare to “shelter in place” from Sunday afternoon through at least Monday morning.

“This storm is extremely worrisome,” said Michael Finkelstein, police chief and emergency management director in East Lyme. “We haven’t been down this road in quite a while and there’s no doubt that we and the rest of New England would have some real difficulties with a direct hit from a hurricane.”

The NHC said storm surge between 3ft and 5ft was possible from Flushing, New York, to Chatham, Massachusetts and for parts of the North Shore and South Shore of Long Island. Rainfall between 3in and 6in was expected Sunday through Monday.

The National Weather Service warned of damaging winds and widespread coastal flooding and officials in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York cautioned that people could lose power for a week or even longer. Authorities urged people to secure boats, fuel vehicles and stock up on canned goods.

New York officials were building a wall of sand along the boardwalk at Jones Beach to protect it against surging tides, said George Gorman, regional director for state parks on Long Island. The wall was being built with equipment procured in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which caused substantial damage to beaches that took months to reopen, he said.

Campgrounds were expected to be closed starting on Saturday afternoon and remain off limits until Tuesday.

In the Hamptons, the celebrity playground on Long Island’s east end, officials warned of dangerous rip currents and flooding likely to turn streets, like mansion-lined Dune Road on the Atlantic coast, into lagoons.

Ryan Murphy, the emergency management administrator for the Town of Southampton, said that while the storm’s track continues to evolve, “we have to plan as if it’s going to be like a category one hurricane that would be hitting us.”

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