Tropical Storm Henri’s outer bands started moving over the Northeast Sunday morning, bringing heavy rain hours before its expected landfall in southern New England as more than 35 million people remained under a flood watch in the region.
The Weather Channel said early Sunday that Henri, which had strengthened into a hurricane Saturday morning, has weakened from a Category 1 hurricane to a strong tropical storm and was located about 50 miles southeast of Montauk, New York.
However, its “impacts are expected to be the same, even with Henri at tropical storm strength.”
“Dangerous storm surge inundation is expected to begin this morning in portions of Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, where a Storm Surge Warning has been issued,” the National Weather Service of the Eastern Region wrote on Twitter early Sunday.
“Tropical storm conditions will begin in [portions of Long Island, Connecticut and Rhode Island] within the next couple of hours,” it added.
Henri is likely to make landfall on Sunday afternoon but heavy rain had caused flooding from New York City to parts of Long Island by Saturday night, the Weather Channel said, adding that Henri is likely to be a strong tropical storm because the system will encounter cooler waters and some possible increased wind shear as it nears the Northeast.
CNN said a broad area from New York City into New England, which are likely to have strong wind and rain, could witness days of power outages and falling trees as the area is saturated from recent rain.
“We’re going to see power outages, we're going to see downed trees, and even after the storm has passed, the threat of falling trees and limbs is still out there,” Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Deanne Criswell was quoted as saying.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Saturday declared a state of emergency, urging everyone to stay indoors.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned people in flood-prone areas to move to safety.
“If you know you are in an area that tends to flood ... get out of that area now, please,” he said in a news briefing Saturday. “If you have to get to higher ground it has to be today.”
Over 35 million people remained under a flood watch across the Northeast as the hurricane center has warned that the expected heavy rain may cause “considerable flash, urban and small stream flooding" and create the potential for "widespread minor and isolated moderate river flooding.”