Thousands without power as Tropical Storm Henri makes landfall near Rhode Island
Tropical Storm Henri made landfall at 12:15 p.m. Sunday near Westerly, Rhode Island, according to the National Hurricane Service as thousands of people already without power braced for the full effect of the storm.
Winds of 60 mph were reported at the time of landing, according to the NHC.
Nearly 100,000 power outages were reported for customers on the northeast coast as of 12:30 p.m. Sunday. The Public Service Enterprise Group, a utility company, has reported that more than 1,700 of its Long Island customers have been affected by power outages.
The utility company National Grid reported that more than 71,000 customers in Rhode Island and more than 3,800 in Massachusetts had been affected by power outages.
Eversource, a Connecticut electrical services company, reported that nearly 20,000 customers were without power. Eversource also reported that about 2,500 of its eastern Massachusetts customers have been affected by power outages.
Although the storm was downgraded, many areas of New York City, Connecticut, Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts were experiencing heavy rains, which could cause major flooding and wind gusts of up to 75 mph.
A 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center said a dangerous storm surge from Henri is expected in Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island and parts of southeastern Massachusetts. The advisory also warned of flash floods in these areas.
Experts said the storm surge is a greater danger to residents than the winds.
On Saturday, the storm caused bad weather that interrupted a concert in New York.
Singer Barry Manilow was in the middle of his performance at “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert” in Grand Central Park when fans were abruptly told to evacuate after lightning was seen nearby. The concert was meant to celebrate the city’s recovery from the coronavirus.
The New York Police Department tweeted that fans had to evacuate but it was “NOT an emergency.”
In other parts of New York City, such as Suffolk County, residents and tourists were asked to participate in a voluntary evacuation before the tropical storm landed.
In New York City, heavy rains from Saturday night to Sunday morning caused infrastructure problems as water spilled at a Queens train station. Several train lines in New York City were proactively suspended before the storm, including the Metro-North, Long Island Railroad and Amtrak lines.
As of Sunday morning, a state of emergency before landing was approved for New York and Connecticut.
At a press conference on Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said rainfall forecast by Monday morning in New York would be about two inches. He added that in the Hudson Valley area up to five inches can fall /
Cuomo warned that the storm could slow down or stall after hitting Long Island, and warned that because the ground is already saturated and the soil’s absorptive capacity is limited, minor flooding has already started in parts of Long. Island.
“A slow storm is a problematic storm,” Cuomo said. “When the storm slows down, it continues to rain for an extended period.”
On Saturday, Cuomo announced that water rescue teams were in preparation for Long Island, the Hudson Valley and Westchester.
It was also deploying 500 National Guard troops, and state police will have around 1,000 on duty in areas that could be severely affected by the storm. On Sunday, Cuomo added that 500 pieces of equipment had also been deployed before the storm landed, but did not specify what that equipment was.
He compared Henri to the 2012 super storm Sandy, the effects of which are still felt in the New York area.
“Super Storm Sandy, which we all remember, was also Category 1 when it hit New York State,” Cuomo said. “So just to put in perspective how bad it is and how dangerous it is.”
As the storm approached, city officials in Rhode Island and Massachusetts closed the giant hurricane barriers built in the 1960s, which were built after the storms of 1938 and 1954.
In Rhode Island, Gov. Dan McKee urged residents to stay at home on Sunday and Monday morning.
“We take this to be serious business,” McKee said at a press conference on Saturday.
Gov. Ned Lamont warned Connecticut residents they should prepare to “shelter in place” from Sunday afternoon to at least Monday morning as the state braces for the first possible direct hit from a hurricane since decades.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Saturday expressed relief that the latest models suggest Henry will not hit the state directly.
But Baker and McKee in separate briefings warned that high winds and heavy rains could still lead to widespread and prolonged power outages.
The last major hurricane threat to New England was about 30 years ago. Hurricane Bob made landfall in parts of New England in 1991 and caused 17 deaths and $ 1.5 billion in damage. Long Island has not been directly affected by a hurricane since Gloria in 1985. The hurricane left eight people dead and nearly $ 1 billion in damage.
A storm surge warning was in effect from Flushing, New York, to Chatham, Massachusetts, including the southern and northern shores of Long Island, according to the National Hurricane Center. Parts of Long Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts were under hurricane warning or hurricane watch.