Weakened Henri spreads heavy rain after drenching New York concertgoers

A sailboat that came loose from its moorings is washed ashore during Tropical Storm Henri in Jamestown, Rhode Island, on Aug 22, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS
The NHC's tropical storm warning covered more than 42 million people. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Tropical Storm Henri weakened on Sunday (Aug 22), but still spread heavy rain over part of the US north-east after a storm linked to it submerged a star-studded concert meant to mark New York City's emergence from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

A light rain that turned into a downpour on Saturday night sent thousands of music fans at the free "Homecoming Concert" in Manhattan's Central Park streaming for the exits in the middle of a performance by Barry Manilow, who continued to sing for a while even after his audio was cut off.

Performers who did not get to go on because of the concert's abrupt ending included Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and the Killers.

Thousands of concertgoers, some still lining up to get in as the show was emptying out, had navigated through an airport-style security checkpoint where they also had to show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus to gain entrance.

The concert had been promoted for weeks by Mayor Bill de Blasio to show the city's resilience against the pandemic.

Its unplanned early ending as Henri, then still a low-level hurricane, churned up the Eastern Seaboard, left CNN, which was broadcasting it live, with air time to fill, which it did in part by having Manilow call into the network and sing.

The downpour, indirectly associated with Henri, set an hourly rainfall record of 1.94 inches (4.93cm) for Central Park, as well as a daily record of 4.45 inches (11.3cm), according to meteorologist Josh Weiss of the National Weather Service Prediction Centre in College Park, Maryland.

Henri made landfall near Westerly, Rhode Island, at about 12.15pm EDT on Sunday (12.15am Monday Singapore time), the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

About two hours later, the NHC said its maximum sustained winds had diminished to 50 miles mph (80kmh).

By Sunday afternoon, the storm left more than 110,000 electric customers in southern New England without power, including 72,000 in Rhode Island, according to PowerOutage.US, which collects data from electric utility companies.

While the NHC said coastal storm surges were no longer a threat, it warned of inland flooding, with the storm expected to stall over the Connecticut-New York border and dump 3-6 inches (7.5-15cm) of rain on much of the region by Monday.

"Heavy rainfall from Henri may result in considerable flash, urban, and small stream flooding, along with the potential for widespread minor to isolated moderate river flooding," it said in a statement.

On Sunday afternoon, its rain bands sprawled from eastern Pennsylvania to southern Vermont and New Hampshire.

The storm's slowdown and prolific rain production over an area already saturated with rain prompted concerns from area governors about flooding in New York's Hudson River Valley and western Connecticut.

President Joe Biden on Sunday said he approved emergency declarations to aid Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York, if necessary.

"While New Englanders are used to dealing with some tough weather, this storm has the potential for widespread consequences across the region with significant flooding and power outages that could affect hundreds of thousands of people," Mr Biden said at a briefing.

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