NEW YORK • Tropical Storm Henri was on course to make landfall on the US east coast yesterday, with millions in New England and New York's Long Island preparing for flash flooding, violent winds and power outages.
The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said in its 7am advisory that Henri was 80km south-east of Montauk Point in New York state. Forecasters downgraded Henri from a hurricane, but warned of heavy rainfall and the risk of surging seas as the storm churned in the Atlantic, packing maximum sustained winds of 112kmh.
A swathe of the north-eastern coastline, including New York City, was under alert ahead of the storm. If Henri is upgraded again, it would be the first hurricane to hit New England in 30 years.
Nasty weather that preceded Henri late on Saturday forced New York City to halt a star-studded Central Park concert billed as a "homecoming" for a metropolis hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The approaching storm had prompted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to announce a state of emergency and the deployment of 500 National Guard soldiers in anticipation of response efforts. He said the storm was expected to make landfall on Long Island around noon yesterday.
"It will be about a 26-hour event," Mr Cuomo added, telling New Yorkers to expect "significant power outages" and "significant flooding" in some suburbs.
Henri was anticipated to miss New York City by several kilometres, but it still caused tropical storm conditions that began on Saturday night. The National Weather Service said 4.9cm of rain fell in Central Park between 10pm and 11pm on Saturday, the wettest hour on record in New York City.
Officials in New England - which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont - warned people to get ready.
Emergency management officials earlier said heavy rainfall and damaging winds could flood roadways and reduce visibility throughout the weekend.
"The last hurricane to make landfall onto New England was Hurricane Bob in 1991," Mr Dennis Feltgen, an NHC spokesman, said. That storm killed at least 17 people.
"The last time we had hurricane watches issued for the area was for Hurricane Irene, back in late August of 2011," tweeted the National Weather Service in New York City.
The last hurricane to make landfall in Long Island was Gloria in 1985.