Live updates: Henri downgraded to tropical depression
CHARLESTOWN, R.I. (AP) — The latest developments on Tropical Storm Henri and its impacts on the Northeast:
Storm Henri weakened into a tropical depression Sunday night, as it crawled over the Northeast and continued to unleash downpours over a region already saturated by heavy rain.
At about 8 p.m. Sunday, the storm was located about 10 miles (15 km) southwest of Hartford, Connecticut, with sustained winds of up to 35 mph (55 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm was expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding across areas of New England, New York, New Jersey and northeast Pennsylvania on Sunday into Monday.
The storm was crawling west-northwest late Sunday evening at 7 mph (11 kph). It is expected to stall near the Connecticut-New York border, before making a slow turn north Monday morning, followed by movement east-northeast in the afternoon.
The vast majority of customers who lost power in hard hit Rhode Island should be restored by mid-week, utility company National Grid said late Sunday.
The company said about 72,600 customers in Rhode Island and 8,500 in Massachusetts were still without power as of 5 p.m. More than 31,400 customers in Rhode Island and 20,700 Massachusetts have already had power restored since the storm’s impact began Sunday morning.
National Grid said the power outages are most prevalent in coastal Rhode Island, including South Kingstown, Narragansett, Westerly, Jamestown, Charlestown and North Kingstown.
Meanwhile, mandatory evacuations in some Connecticut shoreline communities were being lifted, hours after the worst of Tropical Henri passed through the state.
The National Weather Service recorded what could be the wettest hour ever in Central Park, with 1.94 inches (4.93 centimeters) of torrential rainfall pelting the park between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday.
In fact, the weekend was the wettest two-day period since Tropical Storm Irene swept through a decade ago, said Dominic Ramunni, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Upton, New York.
“I call it the wettest hour in New York City, New York, for the record books,” Ramunni said. “We’re going to see additional rainfall through tonight as well so who knows what records may be broken here over the next 24 to 36 hours.”
Saturday’s downpour canceled a star-studded Homecoming concert in Central Park, when 4.5 inches (11.4 centimeters) of rain fell. The rainfall broke a record for the date that had endured since 1888.
Sunday was also another record breaker, with at least 2.24 inches (5.69 centimeters) having already fallen in the heart of New York city. The previous record for the day was 1.85 inches (4.7 centimeters), set in 1994.
Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee says the state is already moving into the recovery and assessment phase after Tropical Storm Henri, with the top priority being restore power to tens of thousands of residents and businesses.
The Democratic governor says National Grid already has crews out working on restoring electricity, and the goal is to get everyone back online by Tuesday.
“We are expecting temperatures in the 90s beginning Tuesday ... and that is why getting power restored is critical for the health and safety of our residents, our economy, and our small businesses,” he said at state emergency management headquarters in Cranston.
Terence Sobolewski, the president of National Grid Rhode Island, said it is expected to take a couple of days to get power fully restored.
The state has also started the process of assessing damage to get maximum reimbursement from the federal government, McKee said. He said on his tour of the state during the height of the storm, he did not see any major damage.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced he will be lifting a travel ban at 5 p.m. that went into effect on Sunday morning on all empty tractor trailers, tandem tractor trailers, and motorcycles on Interstate 95.
The Democrat urged people to stay off the road until the storm completely passes the state.
Storm-related flooding was blamed for major delays in the Hartford suburb of Wethersfield along Interstate 91, a major artery through Connecticut’s capital city.
Brian Foley, special assistant to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, said there was “water over the roadway on multiple lanes” and a couple accidents.
The northbound lane was closed for a short period and traffic was rerouted.
Eversource, Connecticut’s largest electricity supplier, reported 32,902 of its 1.28 million customers in the state were without power as of mid-afternoon.
Communities in rural portions of eastern Connecticut had the largest proportion of power outages in the state by mid-afternoon on Sunday.
The small town of Canterbury had the largest percentage of customers without electricity, nearly 95%, according to Eversource. About 2,180 of the 2,305 were without power. Downed trees were to blame for many of the outages. In nearby Lisbon, 1,205 of the company’s 1,891 customers were without electricity.
“We’ve had trees come down on swimming pools and on several houses. But fortunately, none of those incidents resulted in anybody being hurt,” First Selectman Thomas Sparkman told NBC Connecticut.
Storm-related flooding from Henri has caused major delays in the Hartford suburb of Wethersfield along Interstate 91 northbound, a major artery through Connecticut’s capital city.
Brian Foley, special assistant to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, tweeted that traffic was reduced to one lane and there were multiple accidents.
Traffic cameras showed numerous vehicles backed up. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Twitter urged motorists to “avoid the area while crews work to address the situation.”
Tropical Storm Henri was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, and made landfall near Westerly, R.I., Sunday afternoon with sustained winds of about 60 mph and gusts of up to 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Henri has since weakened to sustained winds of 50 mph as it moves inland.
There were few early reports of major damage due to wind or surf, but officials warned of the danger of spot flooding in inland areas over the next few days.
Towns throughout New Jersey reported heavy rains and street flooding beginning Saturday night. Some places got as much as 8 inches (20 centimeters) by midday Sunday.
Television video footage showed some spots where flash flooding or overflowing brooks had left numerous cars stranded, some with water up to their windows.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy told News 12NJ that the storm in the state had so far been a rain event but “a big rain event.” He said the state had been spared very windy conditions although the winds may pick up later. “It’s a good day to stay home,” he said, urging people to stay off the roads.
Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia and former president of the American Meteorological Society, said Henri was reminiscent in some ways of Hurricane Harvey, a slow-moving storm that decimated the Houston area in 2017, exacerbated when bands of rain set up east of the city, a phenomenon meteorologists call “training.”
Rhode Island has reopened major bridges in the state to traffic but restrictions remain in place for some vehicles.
All roads to the beach community of Misquamicut remain closed because of wind-driven flooding. Misquamicut is a small cluster of beach hotels and vacation cottages and was heavily damaged by storm surge during Superstorm Sandy.
The National Weather Service’s Boston office has reported about 75,000 customers without power in Rhode Island, about 20,000 customers out in Connecticut and nearly 6,900 customers out in Massachusetts.
Tropical Storm Henri has made landfall in Rhode Island.
The National Hurricane Center says Henri came ashore in the coastal town of Westerly around 12:30 p.m. It had earlier passed over Block Island, a small but popular tourist island 13 miles (21 kilometers) offshore in Block Island Sound.
Henri was packing maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour (96 kilometers per hour), and it was producing 19-foot (5.8-meter) waves in some places just before making landfall.
Rhode Island has shut down major bridges in the state due to high winds.
All roads to the beach community of Misquamicut have been closed by authorities because of wind-driven flooding. Misquamicut is a small cluster of beach hotels and vacation cottages and was heavily damaged by storm surge during Superstorm Sandy.
The state is stitched together by bridges so shutting them down may mean people are trapped where they are until the storm passes.
National Grid is reporting 74,000 customers without power in Rhode Island and EverSource is reporting nearly 20,000 customers out in Connecticut.
Henri weakened slightly to a tropical storm early Sunday as it edged closer to landfall.
Millions of people on New York’s Long Island and in southern New England braced for flooding, toppled trees and extended power outages.
Henri was on course to crash into a long stretch of northeastern coastline by midday Sunday. The center of the storm was projected to pass over the eastern tip of Long Island.
MORE ON THE STORM:
__ Heavy rain shut down a star-studded concert in Central Park on Saturday evening that was meant to celebrate New York’s reemergence from the coronavirus pandemic.
__ A look at some of the biggest questions about Henri and its impact.