The year of highly unusual weather events continues into August as New England prepares for the first hurricane to make landfall in 30 years. The last one to strike was back In 1991, when Hurricane Bob made landfall in Rhode Island with winds up to 105 mph, causing nearly $3 billion in damages and killing 15 people.
While Henri will not be as strong, the impacts to one of the most highly populated regions in the United States will be significant. As of Saturday afternoon, we're expecting Henri to make an initial landfall as a Category 1 Hurricane on the eastern end of Long Island early Sunday afternoon before making a second landfall in eastern Connecticut later in the afternoon and evening. Sustained winds will likely be near 75 mph at the time of landfall, with gusts up to 90 mph. Areas east of Islip, NY and Bridgeport, CT are likely to experience full-blown hurricane conditions.
Even as a Category 1 Hurricane, Henri has the potential to be a historic storm due to the tree density, power line infrastructure, and topography of New England. Last year when Isaias passed on the western fringe of the region as a weakening tropical storm, power was knocked out for millions across NY, NJ, CT and MA. As a stronger storm that will first be making landfall across Long Island and Connecticut, the wind and flood risk will be much higher.
While just 24 hours to go until landfall, several important details remain uncertain with Henri –– the main one being exact location of landfall.
As with most tropical entities, the heavy rainfall and flooding potential will be lopsided to the western side of the storm, while the highest winds will be lopsided to the east. A landfall in central or western Long Island vs a landfall on the eastern tip of Long Island would lead to dramatically different outcomes for southern New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The region within 30-50 miles of the storms center will likely experience a combination of flooding rains, storm surge, and damaging winds.
Shifts in the track are still possible over the next 18-24 hours, with landfall uncertainty extending from western Long Island and SW CT to Rhode Island.
That being said, these are the current rain and wind impacts we expect with Hurricane Henri:
Eastern Long Island, eastern coastal Connecticut and coastal Rhode Island will likely experience the worst of the damaging winds –– Gusts 60-75 mph with a few isolated gusts up to 90 mph along the immediate coastline.
Southern New York, including NYC and the Hudson Valley, and Connecticut, will likely experience the worst of the flooding rainfall –– 5-8" of rainfall from a slow moving hurricane, with the potential for isolated amounts of 8"+. Flooding has the potential to be devastating, especially further north across the Catskills.
The impacts associated with the heavy rainfall and damaging winds will be widespread power outages lasting 5-7+ days, damage to infrastructure near the coastline, rivers overflowing onto roadways, and downed trees that will lead to an extended cleanup effort.
The worst of the conditions for southern New England will be Sunday morning into the overnight hours, with continued impacts late Sunday into early Monday for northern New England.
By Tuesday, cleanup will be able to begin for the region.