Henry lands ashore in New England
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WEST, RI – Tropical Storm Henri hit the Rhode Island coast on August 22, causing high winds that cut power to tens of thousands of homes and bands of rain that resulted in sudden flooding in New Jersey in Massachusetts.
The storm has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, but wind gusts of up to 70 mph are still present. There have been few early reports of major wind or wave damage, but officials have warned of the danger of spot flooding in inland areas over the next few days.
Millions of people on Long Island in New York and southern New England have braced for the possibility of flooding, tree upsets and prolonged power outages. Residents along the coast hoped to be spared the storm, but braced for the worst.
Waves and patches of rain swept through southern Rhode Island’s seaside towns as the storm approached, leaving some coastal roads nearly impassable. Some small trees had already fallen in the winds and rain, which had swollen the local coves and coves.
The impacts will continue to spread inland as a center of #Henri travels ashore in southern New England. Tropical storm conditions will continue in parts of the Tropical Storm Warning Zone until tonight. pic.twitter.com/kbCWRknPd4
– National Weather Service (@NWS) August 22, 2021
While the wind was strong in some areas, experts warned that the greatest threat from the storm is likely to come from storm surges and inland flooding, caused by what is expected to be heavy and sustained rains. Some of the highest rainfall totals were expected inland.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that with the threat to Long Island diminishing, the state’s main concern was inland areas like the Hudson River Valley, north of New York City, which should receive inches of rain over the next few days.
Precipitation in the Catskills “is a big problem,” Cuomo said. “In the Hudson Valley you have hills, you have streams, water rushes down those hills and turns a stream into a devastating river. I saw small towns in these mountainous regions devastated by rain. This is still a very real possibility.
In anticipation of the storm, officials from Providence, RI, and New Bedford, Mass., Closed giant hurricane barriers built in the 1960s after the devastating storms of 1938 and 1954.
The Massachusetts Steamship Authority has canceled all Aug. 22 ferry services between the mainland and the popular vacation islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket after the U.S. Coast Guard closed ports on Cape Cod and New Bedford. Tourists waiting in their cars, hoping for a last minute ferry off the islands, found themselves stranded until the worst of Henry passes.
People disembark from a ferry in Bay Shore, NY, as it arrives from Fire Island. (Craig Ruttle / Associated press)
The first thunderstorms bringing what could be as much as half a foot of rain arrived at the end of August 21 and flash floods started in some areas overnight. Bands of heavy rain submerged storm sewers and conductors crossed water to a depth of one foot in a few places in New York City and Newark and Hoboken, NJ
President Joe Biden has declared disasters across much of the region, opening the purse strings for federal stimulus aid. The White House said Biden had discussed preparations with governors in the Northeast and that New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who succeeds Cuomo on August 24, also participated.
Major airports in the region remained open as the storm approached, although hundreds of August 22 flights were canceled. Service on some branches of the New York City commuter rail system was suspended until August 22, as was Amtrak service between New York City and Boston.
New York has not been directly affected by a powerful cyclone since Super Storm Sandy wreaked havoc in 2012. Some of that storm’s most significant repairs have been completed, but many projects designed to protect against future ones. storms remain unfinished.
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