Henri becomes a hurricane as it moves toward the Northeast
PLYMOUTH, Mass. — The urgency of preparations for a monster storm hitting parts of the Northeast became a priority Saturday when Henri was promoted to a hurricane as the tropical system moved closer to landfall, expected to hit Long Island and Connecticut first. The National Hurricane Center said late Saturday morning that a hurricane warning for the southern coast of New England, including Rhode Island, was being extended eastward to west of Westport, Massachusetts, encompassing Block Island. It said a tropical storm warning for the coast of Massachusetts had been extended eastward, including Nantucket. Landfall is expected Sunday. Forecasters predicted a dangerous storm surge could occur as early as late Saturday in portions of Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. The storm surge and tide could cause high water in coastal New England as Henri moves inland, while heavy rain and wind may also produce flooding. Henri was veering a bit further west than originally expected, and if that track holds, it would have eastern Long Island in its bullseye rather than New England, which hasn’t taken a direct hit from a hurricane since Hurricane Bob in 1991, a Category 2 storm that killed at least 17 people. New York hasn’t had a direct hit from a major hurricane season storm since Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc in 2012. Some of the most important repairs from that storm have been completed, but many projects designed to protect against future storms remain unfinished. Regardless of its exact landfall, broad impacts were expected across a large swath of the Northeast, extending inland to Hartford, Connecticut, and Albany, New York, and eastward to Cape Cod, which is teeming with tens of thousands of summer tourists. Reflecting Henri’s changing track, a hurricane watch was lifted for the Cape on Saturday, though it remained under tropical storm and storm surge warnings. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged people vacationing on the Cape to leave well before Henri hits, and those who planned to start vacations there to delay their plans.“We don’t want people to be stuck in traffic on the Cape Cod bridges when the storm is in full force on Sunday,” he said. With a top wind speed of 75 mph (120 kph) Saturday morning, Henri sped up slightly to move north-northeast at 14 mph (23 kph). It’s still about 465 miles (750 kilometers) south of Montauk on New York’s Long Island. Gov. Ned Lamont warned Connecticut residents they should prepare to “shelter in place” from Sunday afternoon through at least Monday morning as the state braces for the first possible direct hit from a hurricane in decades.“This storm is extremely worrisome,” said Michael Finkelstein, police chief and emergency management director in East Lyme, Connecticut. “We haven’t been down this road in quite a while and there’s no doubt that we and the rest of New England would have some real difficulties with a direct hit from a hurricane.
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