Hurricane Henri weakens to a tropical storm and continues to threaten the northeast

Hurricane Henri weakened to tropical storm status on Sunday, but remained a threat to the northeastern United States, causing a severe storm surge and threatening to hit some areas with up to 10 inches of rain.

The storm’s outer bands landed on east Long Island and south New England early Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said. At 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, Henri was 15 miles east of Montauk Point, NY moving north-northwest at 12 mph with a maximum sustained wind speed of 60 mph.

Winds with tropical storm strength extended up to 200 kilometers outwards.

“Regardless of the exact landing site, storm surge, rain and wind hazards will be far from the center,” warned Senior Hurricane Specialist Daniel Brown. “This is a life-threatening situation.”

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Henri was due to land in southern New England or Long Island late Sunday morning or early afternoon. After landing, a north turn and slower forward speed was expected as Henri moved across southern New England. A slower forward speed means the storm will last longer and drain excess rain as it goes by.

Rainfall levels of 3 to 6 inches across parts of Long Island, New England, southeast New York, New Jersey and northeast Pennsylvania were expected through Monday, and isolated peaks could approach 10 inches, the hurricane center said.

Cranbury, NJ, was blown up with nearly 9 inches of rain on Sunday morning. Brooklyn was more than 6 inches, and Central Park was almost 5 inches.

Residents and visitors to Fire Island, a narrow strip of sandy villages just above sea level off the south coast of Long Island, have been ordered to evacuate. The last boats left before 11 p.m. on Saturday, and officials warned there may be no way to reach the people left behind.

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The storm ended a concert with superstars in Central Park. Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, and Jennifer Hudson’s show celebrated New York’s recovery from the coronavirus. But officials urged concert-goers to leave the park during Barry Manilow’s set amid the danger of lightning.

“Although it is disappointing that the concert had to end early tonight, the safety of everyone in attendance had to come first,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio on Twitter.

Governor Ned Lamont warned Connecticut residents to prepare to seek shelter from Sunday afternoon until at least Monday morning as the state prepares for the first possible direct hit from a hurricane in decades.

“I got the message that @POTUS agreed to our request to Connecticut to have a pre-landing emergency declaration before #Henri that provides federal resources to help us respond and keep people safe,” tweeted Lamont on Sunday.

Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee warned the state was likely to be hit hard. Thousands of power outages were reported early on Sunday, he said.

“Yesterday I asked you to prepare for the storm, today I ask you to stay home,” McKee said. “If you set off, you not only risk your own life, you also put first responders at risk.”

Boston Mayor Kim Janey also urged residents to stay home and use public transportation if travel was required. She said the city is expecting noxious winds, potential power outages, storm surges and rain floods.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said National Guard and state police resources have been relocated to the western portion of the state to follow the storm’s expected trail.

Contribution: The Associated Press

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