PLYMOUTH, Massachusetts (AP) – Parts of the northeast could feel the effects of Tropical Storm Henri as early as late Saturday as the system, which is expected to turn into a hurricane by the end of the day, heads for the region.
Forecasters said Henri is expected to be at or near hurricane strength when it hits land on Sunday afternoon, which, according to the hurricane center, could be on New York’s Long Island or southern New England – most likely in Connecticut.
Storm surges and high tides could cause flooding in the New England coast if Henri moves inland, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in an opinion. Heavy rain and wind can also cause flooding.
Henri turned a little further west than originally expected, and if that course holds, he will have his sights set on east Long Island rather than New England, a Category 2 storm, which has not been directly hit by a hurricane since Hurricane Bob in 1991 which killed at least 17 people.
New York has not been directly hit by a major hurricane season storm since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
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. To reflect Henri’s shifting course, a hurricane watch was lifted for the Cape on Saturday despite staying under the warnings of tropical storms and storm surges.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker urged people who vacationed in the Cape long before Henri strikes and those who planned to vacation there to postpone their plans.
“We don’t want people stuck in traffic on Cape Cod bridges when the storm is at full strength on Sunday,” he said.
Henri was centered about 320 kilometers southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and about 845 kilometers 525 miles south of Montauk Point, New York, on Saturday morning. It was a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds at 110 km / h and moving north-northeast at 19 km / h.
Governor Ned Lamont warned Connecticut residents to prepare for “on-site protection” Sunday afternoon through at least Monday morning as the state prepares for the first possible direct hit from a hurricane in decades.
“This storm is extremely worrying,” said Michael Finkelstein, chief of police and emergency management director for East Lyme, Connecticut. “We haven’t been on this path in a while and there is no doubt that we and the rest of New England would have real trouble with a direct hit from a hurricane.”
The storm surge in the hurricane center between 1 and 1.5 meters was possible with Henri von Flushing, New York, to Chatham, Massachusetts; and for parts of the North Shore and South Shore of Long Island.
Rainfalls between 3 to 6 inches were expected over the northeast from Sunday to Monday.
The weather service warned from Henri of the potential for harmful winds and widespread coastal flooding, and officials in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York warned people could be out of power for a week or more. Authorities urged people to secure their boats, refuel their vehicles and stock up on canned food.
New York state park officials built a wall of sand along the boardwalk at Jones Beach to protect it from tidal waves, said George Gorman, Long Island’s regional director for state parks. The wall was built with equipment procured after Hurricane Sandy, which caused significant damage to the beaches, which took months to reopen, he said.
Campsites should be closed from Saturday afternoon and remain closed until Tuesday.
At Safe Harbor Marina in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Steve Berlo was one of the many boaters whose boats were pulled out of the water before the storm.
“It’s rare, but when it happens you want to be sure you’re ready,” said Berlo, 54. “Have to protect our second home.”
At the Hamptons, the celebrity playground on Long Island’s east end, officials warned of dangerous currents and flooding that could likely turn streets, like mansion-lined Dune Road on the Atlantic coast, into lagoons.
Ryan Murphy, the City of Southampton Emergency Management Administrator, said that as the storm progresses, “we need to plan as if it would be like a Category 1 hurricane hit us.”
Eaton-Robb reported from Columbia, Connecticut. Contributors to this report were Associated Press authors Michael R. Sisak and Bobby Caina Calvan in New York, Tom Foreman Jr. in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and William J. Kole in Warwick, Rhode Island.
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