Long Island and southern New England, which haven’t been directly hit by a hurricane for at least three decades, were preparing on Saturday for Hurricane Henri, which is expected to hit land on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said.
Henri was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane from a tropical storm on Saturday as its winds rose up to 120 mph with higher gusts. The center announced that further strengthening was expected by Saturday evening.
“Although some slowdown is expected before the mainland strike on Sunday, Henri is expected to be at or near hurricane strength by the time he hits the shores of Long Island and southern New England,” it said.
The last hurricane to land on Long Island was Gloria in 1985 and the last to land in New England was Bob in 1991. Hurricane Bob killed at least a dozen people, brought down power lines and destroyed homes when neighborhoods were flooded.
Hurricane conditions should begin in parts of Connecticut, Long Island, and Rhode Island on late Saturday or Sunday. Hurricane warnings have been issued for much of Long Island, and a warning has also been issued in New Haven, Connecticut, west of Westport, Massachusetts.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the coasts of New Jersey and New York, including New York City.
Destructive winds, life-threatening storm surges and heavy rains are likely on Long Island and Connecticut, said the National Weather Service in New York. Henri is expected to bring up to six inches of rain over New England on Sunday and Monday, with isolated totals of nearly 10 inches.
Storm surges of up to five feet can occur in some coastal areas. Two meters of running water is enough for a vehicle to swim.
“Preparations to protect lives and property should be completed quickly,” the Hurricane Center said on Saturday for those affected by hurricane warnings.
The center warned that hurricane-force winds could extend up to 45 miles outside the center of the hurricane and tropical gale-force winds could be up to 250 miles from center.
Steven Bellone, the manager of Suffolk County on Long Island, issued a voluntary evacuation for the people of Fire Island on Saturday.
Energy utility PSEG Long Island warned customers that power outages could last seven to ten days after the storm. The utility said about 1,200 additional crew members would be arriving in the area to help.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said Friday that Cape Cod residents and vacationers should depart before the storm reached full force on Sunday. He said he was ready to dispatch up to 1,000 National Guard soldiers to assist with evacuations if necessary.
The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming more and more apparent. A warming planet can expect stronger hurricanes and more of the strongest storms over time – although the total number of storms could decrease as factors such as stronger wind shear could prevent weaker storms from forming.
A key United Nations climate report released this month warned that nations had delayed curbing their fossil fuel emissions for so long that they could no longer prevent the increase in global warming for the next 30 years, which is too frequent life-threatening heat waves and severe droughts. Tropical cyclones have likely increased in intensity over the past 40 years, the report says, a shift that cannot be explained by natural variability alone.
Ana became the first named storm of the season on May 22, making it the seventh year in a row that a named storm has developed in the Atlantic prior to the season’s official start on June 1.
In May, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, including six to 10 hurricanes and three to five major category 3 or higher hurricanes in the Atlantic. In a mid-season forecast update in early August, they continued to warn that this year’s hurricane season would be above average, pointing to a busy end of the season.
NOAA’s Matthew Rosencrans said an updated forecast suggested there would be 15 to 21 named storms by the end of the season on Nov. 30, including seven to 10 hurricanes. Henri is the eighth named storm of 2021.
Last year there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, which caused meteorologists to deplete the alphabet a second time and switch to Greek letters.
It was the highest number of storms recorded in 2005, surpassing 28 in 2005, and included the second highest number of hurricanes ever recorded.
The coverage was contributed by Derrick Bryson Taylor, Neil Vigdor, Jesus JimÃ©nez, Jacey Fortin and Eduardo Medina.