Tropical Storm Henri, which has been spinning over the open waters of the Atlantic the past few days, will soon approach the East Coast.
A weekend landfall in New England is possible, with alerts posted for many coastal areas.
Henri was centered about 375 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, at 8 a.m. Friday. Its sustained winds were up to 65 mph, with higher gusts, and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 90 miles from the center.
The National Hurricane Center expects Henri to gain strength as it accelerates to the north across the unusually warm waters of the western Atlantic. Weak wind shear will also contribute to Henri’s intensification. The storm will likely become a hurricane by Saturday.
Coastal flooding and wind damage are possible from Long Island, New York, to eastern Massachusetts, where the NHC has posted the following alerts:
Storm surge watch
• South shore of Long Island from East Rockaway Inlet to Montauk.
• North shore of Long Island from Kings Point to Montauk.
• Kings Point, New York, to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts.
• Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, as well as Block Island, Rhode Island.
• South shore of Long Island from Fire Island Inlet to Montauk.
• North shore of Long Island from Port Jefferson Harbor to Montauk.
• New Haven, Connecticut, to Sagamore Beach.
• Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, as well as Block Island.
Tropical storm watch
• West of Fire Island Inlet to East Rockaway Inlet, New York.
• West of Port Jefferson Harbor, New York.
• West of New Haven.
This is the first hurricane watch issued in New England since Hurricane Irene in 2011, according to the NHC. The NHC will likely upgrade these watches to warnings as Henri gets closer to the coast.
The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water could reach 3 to 5 feet in some places if the peak surge occurs at high tide.
The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances.
Tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible in the tropical storm watch area by early Sunday, followed by possible hurricane conditions (winds of at least 74 mph) in the hurricane watch area later Sunday.
Henri could produce rain amounts of 2 to 5 inches in southern New England Sunday into Monday, with isolated totals of 6 to 8 inches. Heavy rainfall may result in areas of flooding.
Swells will increase across much of the East Coast and Atlantic Canada from Friday through early next week. These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip currents.
Landfall is possible anywhere from Long Island to eastern Massachusetts. However, the margin of error in the forecast will shrink later Friday into Saturday. The silver lining is that Henri will probably weaken back to a tropical storm before its potential landfall. In any event, everyone in the watch areas should prepare for the storm.
July and August are historically the most active months for the Atlantic hurricane season. Look for more tropical updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.
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