The Slatest

Tropical Storm Henri Makes Landfall in Rhode Island and More Than 135,000 Lose Power

A New Market Volunteer Fire Company rescue crew member wades through high waters following a flash flood, as Tropical Storm Henri makes landfall, in Helmetta, New Jersey, on August 22, 2021.
A New Market Volunteer Fire Company rescue crew member wades through high waters following a flash flood, as Tropical Storm Henri makes landfall, in Helmetta, New Jersey, on August 22, 2021. TOM BRENNER/Getty Images

Update: Tropical Storm Henri made landfall in southwestern Rhode Island on Sunday afternoon with high winds that cut power to tens of thousands of customers even as it weakened quickly. Henri, which had been downgraded from a hurricane earlier in the day, made landfall near Westerly with sustained winds of around 60 mph, which quickly decreased to 50 mph as it moved inland. More than 135,000 homes lost power from New Jersey to Maine but there were few immediate reports of major damage, although officials warned there was a high risk of flooding over the next few days. The National Weather Service also warned there was a risk of tornadoes on Sunday across southern New England.

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By Sunday afternoon, flash floods had already been reported in New York and New Jersey. Some communities in central New Jersey had already received as much as eight inches of rain. Some areas could see as much as six hours of sustained high winds that could take down trees and power lines. The way Henri has slowed down means it could dump more rain on areas that have already been drenched, increasing the threat of flooding. The National Hurricane Center says it expects Henri to “possibly stall” near the border between Connecticut and New York. Although forecasters had said storm surges of up to five feet could be expected, all the storm surge warnings were lifted as of Sunday afternoon.

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Original post at 11:39 a.m.: Henri was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm early Sunday as it began hitting the Northeastern coastline and millions of people in Long Island and southern New England braced for flooding and high winds. dDespite the downgrade, Henri was still packing a wind gust of up to 75 mph and was expected to hit land in late morning or early afternoon Sunday over eastern Long Island or southern New England. It is expected to weaken quickly once it lands.

Even before Henri made landfall, its impact was already being felt with heavy rain over the region and dozens of reports of flooded roads. More than 42 million people in the region were under a hurricane or tropical storm warning as of Saturday. Experts said the biggest risk to the area was the storm surges and heavy rains that could lead to flooding. Many places in the region, including the Hamptons, don’t have the necessary infrastructure to make evacuations possible so many people were simply told to shelter in place. “We have one lane of travel leaving the Hamptons so it’s a little difficult to order evacuations,” East Hampton Mayor Jerry Larsen told The Associated Press. “So most people will shelter in place and, God willing, everyone will come through this OK.” In other low-lying areas, residents were encouraged to evacuate. “We have not seen anything of this magnitude for many years,” said New Haven Emergency Management Director Rick Fontana. “This is a dangerous storm.”

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Residents across New England and Long Island rushed to make last-minute preparations ahead of what is expected to be the worst storm to hit the region in three decades. But by mid-morning, meteorologists said time for preparations had passed and urged those in Henri’s path to hunker down. Utilities have warned customers they could lose power for as long as five to 10 days and governors told residents they should be ready to shelter in place from Sunday afternoon through at least Monday. In New York City, residents were urged to stay home and only use public transport if they have to travel.

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