Tropical Storm Henry will make landfall on the east coast of the United States on Sunday, and millions of people in New England and Long Island, New York are preparing for flash floods, high winds and blackouts.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) stated in a 7 am (12:00 GMT) notification that Henry is located 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of Montauk Point in New York State.
The forecaster downgraded Henry from the hurricane, but warned that as the storm stirred in the Atlantic, the maximum sustained wind speed was 113 kilometers (70 miles per hour), and there was a risk of heavy rainfall and turbulent waves.
Scientists say that as the ocean surface warms due to climate change, cyclones become stronger and carry more water, posing an increasing threat to the world’s coastal communities. Storm surges intensified by sea level rise are particularly devastating.
As the storm approaches, large areas of the northeastern coastline, including New York City, are on alert. If Henry escalates again, it will be the first hurricane to hit New England in 30 years.
Henry was expected to miss New York City by a few miles, but still caused tropical storm conditions and flash floods that began Saturday night.
The National Weather Service said that from 10pm to 11pm on Saturday night, the park’s rainfall was 49 mm (1.94 inches), which was the wettest time on record in New York City.
In New York City and several locations in Newark and Hoboken, New Jersey, rainstorms flooded storm drains, and drivers plowed through several feet of water.
The rain forced New York City to stop a star-studded Central Park concert that was advertised as the “return” of the metropolis that was hit hard by the pandemic.
In the park, an announcer interrupted pop legend Barry Manilow in the middle of the song, urging revellers to go to the nearest exit quickly and calmly.
The approaching hurricane at the time prompted New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency and deploy 500 National Guard soldiers in anticipation of countermeasures.
“This is as serious as a heart attack,” he warned.
He said the storm is expected to make landfall on Long Island around noon on Sunday (16:00 GMT), Long Island is home to the luxurious Hampton Village where wealthy New Yorkers retreat during the summer.
“This will be a 26-hour event,” Cuomo added, telling New Yorkers that “severe power outages” and “severe floods” are expected in some suburbs of the Big Apple.
The NHC warned of “dangerous storm surges, hurricanes and flooding” in southern New England and Long Island.
The NHC warned that Henri expects to produce 75-150 mm (3-6 inches) of rain in the area, and the isolated maximum rainfall is close to 254 mm (10 inches).
It added that heavy rainfall “may cause considerable flash floods, flooding of cities and streams,” and river flooding, and said that 1.5 meters (5 feet) of storm surges may occur in coastal areas.
Strong winds are expected to cause hundreds of thousands of people in the area to lose power and delay countless flights.
East Hampton Mayor Jerry Larson said the lack of major roads on the eastern end of Long Island made mass evacuation unsustainable.
“We have a lane to leave Hampton, so evacuation is a bit difficult,” Larson told The Associated Press. “So most people will take refuge on the spot, God bless, everyone will get through safely.”
Hurricanes of the past
In response to the storm, officials in Providence, Rhode Island and New Bedford, Massachusetts closed the giant hurricane barriers built in the 1960s after the devastating storms of 1938 and 1954.
New England officials-including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont-have warned people to prepare.
“The last hurricane to land in New England was Hurricane Bob in 1991,” NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen told AFP. At least 17 people died in that storm.
It has been nearly 10 years since this severe weather threatened the area.
The National Weather Service of New York City said on Twitter: “The last time we issued a hurricane observation warning for the area was in Hurricane Irene in late August 2011.”
The last hurricane to land on Long Island was Hurricane Gloria in 1985.
These warnings have rekindled memories of Hurricane Sandy, a more powerful storm. In 2012, most parts of Manhattan were blacked out and subways were flooded.
Due to Henry’s reasons, the PGA Tour will postpone the final round of the Northern Trust Championship in the suburbs of New York until Monday.
As the storm approached, the main airport in the area remained open, but hundreds of flights were cancelled on Sunday. Services to some branches of the New York City commuter rail system were suspended until Sunday, and Amtrak service between New York and Boston was also suspended.