Forecasters warn Henri might be the worst storm within the northeast in 30 years: NPR
People disembark from a ferry in Bay Shore, NY on Saturday, August 21, 2021 when it arrived from Fire Island. Because of the possible damage caused by Henri, an evacuation order was issued for the island. Craig Ruttle / AP Hide caption
Craig Ruttle / AP
Craig Ruttle / AP
Henri weakened slightly to a tropical storm early Sunday when it was scheduled to hit a long stretch of the northeast coast where millions on New York’s Long Island and southern New England were preparing for what may be the worst storm in the region in 30 years.
With the center of the storm expected to slip right past the eastern tip of Long Island by noon, hurricane warnings stretched from the shores of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the luxurious oceanfront properties of New York’s Hamptons.
The storm had top winds of 70 mph (110 km / h) in an EDT update at 7 a.m. from the US National Hurricane Center, just before hurricane status.
The first thunderstorms of up to half a foot (15 centimeters) of rain came late Saturday, and flash floods started overnight in some areas. In several locations in New York City, as well as Newark and Hoboken, New Jersey, heavy rains flooded the sewers and drivers plowed through foot-deep water.
On Sunday morning, winds with tropical storm strength began to hit the coast. When the tide rises, a dangerous storm surge threatens.
People on the planned route spent Saturday stocking up on groceries and gasoline. Those near the coast boarded up windows and, in some cases, were evacuated.
James Masog (center) and Gary Tavares prepare to climb a house in Charlestown, RI on the Saturday before Hurricane Henri. Stew Milne / AP Hide caption
Steve Milne / AP
Steve Milne / AP
Residents and visitors to Fire Island, a narrow strip of sandy villages just above sea level off the south coast of Long Island, have been ordered to evacuate. The last boats left before 11 p.m. on Saturday, and officials warned there may be no way to reach the people left behind.
The evacuation threw Kristen Paveses’s planned bachelorette party on Fire Island a spanner in the works. The group of ten had planned to party on Saturday night but took the ferry just one day after arriving. They had planned to stay until Monday.
“I get annoyed about it, but it’s the weather. It’s not something I can control,” said Pavese, a Long Island resident. “I’ve been going to Fire Island for a long time so I’m kind of familiar with this happening.”
The approaching storm on Saturday night also ended a superstar-laden concert in Central Park. The show, headlined by Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Jennifer Hudson, was meant to celebrate New York’s recovery from the coronavirus. But officials urged concert-goers to leave the park during Barry Manilow’s set amid the danger of lightning.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who will be leaving office on Monday after stepping down over a sexual harassment scandal, appeared on Saturday to ask New York residents to make last-minute preparations and warned that heavy rain was coming , Henri’s wind and storm surge could be as devastating as Superstorm Sandy was in 2012.
“We have short notice,” said Cuomo on one of his recent forays in front of television cameras, a shot that made him famous during the worst pandemic of the past year.
Governor Ned Lamont warned Connecticut residents to prepare to be “subordinate” from Sunday afternoon to at least Monday morning as the state prepares for the first possible direct hit from a hurricane in decades. Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee issued a similar warning.
At some gas stations from Cape Cod to Long Island the fuel was sold out. Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman described a run on supplies like batteries and flashlights as people “wake up” to weather models showing that the center of the storm “would hit the city of Southampton”.
Major airports in the region remained open as the storm approached, despite hundreds of flights being canceled on Sunday. Service on some branches of the New York City subway system was suspended until Sunday, as was Amtrak service between New York and Boston.
The White House said President Joe Biden had discussed the preparations with the governors of the Northeast, and New York City Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who will succeed Cuomo on Tuesday, also took part.
Biden later began approving emergency declarations with Rhode Island.
New York has not been directly hit by a powerful cyclone since Superstorm ravaged Sandy in 2012. Some of the major repairs to this storm have been completed, but many projects to protect against future storms remain unfinished.
Regardless of the precise landing, widespread impacts were expected to be felt in much of the northeast, stretching inland to Hartford, Connecticut and Albany, New York, and east to Cape Cod, teeming with tens of thousands of summer tourists.
Storm surges between 1 and 1.5 meters were possible in much of Long Island Sound as far as Chatham, Massachusetts, and a little less on the Atlantic coast of Long Island, said the hurricane center. Flash floods were possible in inland areas already saturated by the recent rain.