Hurricane Henri is expected to make landfall “at or near hurricane strength” somewhere around New York’s Long Island or southern New England by Sunday afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center. Henri strengthened from a tropical storm on Saturday as it built up steam over the Atlantic with maximum sustained winds near 75 mph (120 kph).
This Category 1 storm, the first hurricane of the season, threatens to hit the Northeast with high winds, flooding, and dangerous storm surges ahead of its landfall. Across coastal regions of New York and New England, “large and dangerous waves” could accompany storm surges of up to 5 feet (1.5 meters), the NHS warned. Hurricane conditions are projected to hit portions of Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island beginning late Saturday or early Sunday.
Forecasts show between 3 to 6 inches (7.6 to 15.2 centimeters) of rain buffeting southeastern New York, northern New Jersey, and New England on Sunday and into Monday, with isolated totals of up to 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) expected in these areas.
“Heavy rainfall may lead to considerable flash, urban, and small stream flooding, along with the potential for widespread minor to isolated moderate river flooding over portions of Long Island, New England, eastern New York and New Jersey,” the agency said.
Hurricane warnings have been issued for roughly 6 million people across much of Long Island, Block Island, and from New Haven, Connecticut, to west of Westport, Massachusetts. Tropical storm warnings have been issued for coastal regions of New York and New Jersey, including New York City. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced a voluntary evacuation of Fire Island, New York, on Saturday and urged residents to leave for their own safety. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a similar appeal as he declared a state of emergency, warning people who live in areas with a history of flooding to move to safety immediately.
“If you have to get to higher ground it has to be today,” he said during a televised news briefing Saturday.
President Joe Biden held a conference call Saturday afternoon with federal emergency officials and the governors of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, and New Jersey. On the call, Biden assured state leaders that they have “the full support” of the federal government to assist in local emergency response efforts, according to a White House press statement. Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Deanne Criswell said the agency is pre-positioning more than 700 response personnel, meals, tarps, and generators in the region.
“We’re going to see power outages, we’re going to see downed trees, and even after the storm has passed, the threat of falling trees and limbs is still out there,” Criswell told CNN on Saturday.”
And Hurricane Henri may just be the beginning. Atlantic hurricane season doesn’t peak until September, and the NHS’s forecast of an active season this year has proven right so far. So hunker down, folks. And stay safe.