- Residents and tourists are being told to leave.
- Storm surge, flooding and widespread power outages are possible across the Northeast and New England.
- Deadly rip currents are a threat up and down the East Coast through the weekend.
A voluntary evacuation is underway on Fire Island, New York, as residents and officials from Long Island to Rhode Island prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Henri.
“I am announcing a voluntary evacuation order to urge residents and visitors of Fire Island to leave for their own safety,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone posted on Twitter around 12:15 p.m. Saturday. “I urge residents to check ferry service times and make plans to leave the barrier island today.”
Fire Island is a thin barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island and is a popular tourist destination.
“That’s a big issue for us.,” Bellone told The Weather Channel earlier Saturday. “We’re at the height of the summer season as this storm approaches.”
The county planned to open shelters Saturday evening, he said.
Suffolk County includes the eastern part of Long Island as well as barrier islands parallel to it.
Henri was upgraded to a hurricane Saturday morning and is tracking up the Atlantic toward the Northeast, with landfall likely from Long Island to southern New England on Sunday.
“This is a serious storm, it’s a significant storm and people should be prepping for, taking precautions, and leaving the area if necessary,” Bellone said.
Storm surge, flooding and widespread power outages are likely as the storm makes landfall and moves across land.
“Not all the impacts are going to be in the same spot,” weather.com digital meteorologist Jonathan Belles said. “Surge is going to be east, rainfall flooding will be further west.”
The ground in much of region is already saturated from rain brought in recent days by the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred. That means trees might be more likely to fall over and take power lines with them.
Power crews are standing by to respond.
“Trees are the number one cause of outages,” Mitch Gross, a spokesperson for utility company Eversource, told The Weather Channel.
(MORE: Tracking Henri)
On Friday, the governor of Massachusetts activated the National Guard and a state of emergency was declared in Connecticut as the storm’s path took a more westward turn.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged visitors to Cape Cod to change their plans.
“We’re strongly recommending that all travelers delay any trips to the Cape and the islands, possibly until Monday when the storm moves out,” Baker said in a news briefing Friday. “Additionally, those currently visiting the Cape and islands this week should consider leaving the Cape on Saturday, or find a way to make plans to stay until Monday or Tuesday.”
Baker said the intent is to keep people off roads and bridges at the height of the storm.
Baker activated up to 1,000 members of the Massachusetts National Guard to respond to high water rescues, debris cleanup and public safety support in impacted communities.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont issued a state of emergency and requested a pre-landfall presidential emergency declaration from the White House.
“As this storm moves toward CT, we’re anticipating heavy rainfall and high winds, with coastal and urban flooding a significant concern,” Lamont said on Twitter. “Right now, it’s a good idea for everyone to be prepared and expect to shelter in place by Sunday afternoon through at least Monday morning.”
Lamont requested that the National Guard activate 200 members starting Saturday for preparation and response.
In New London, Connecticut, workers were clearing storm drains in areas prone to flooding and making other preparations ahead of the storm, which could be the first hurricane to make landfall in New England since 1991.
“Obviously we haven’t had a direct hit in quite a while and, you know, hopefully, it’ll just stay Category 1 for now but we’re watching it very closely to see the track,” Thomas Curcio, New London’s fire chief and emergency management director, told weather.com in a phone interview Friday.
Curcio said city staff was meeting with downtown business owners.
“A lot of places put out furniture now for dining so we’re making sure they’re taking all that in,” he said. “Any loose items outside, any portable heaters, chairs, anything like that should all be taken inside or stored somewhere safely or tied down.”
He added that residents should do the same as high winds and heavy rainfall could hit the area.
“Now’s the time to prepare for that,” Curcio said.
Personnel at Navy Submarine Base New London were working to prep the installation. Boat owners around the region were busy pulling their vessels from the water and people in coastal areas were told to stock up on canned goods and top off their vehicle gas tanks.
If Henri makes landfall as a hurricane in New England, it would be the first to do since Hurricane Bob went ashore in Rhode Island 30 years ago this week. If it makes landfall on Long Island, it would be first direct hit there since Hurricane Gloria in 1985, although several storms have impacted the island since then, including Isaias last .year.
The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.