Even though Henri continues to organize tonight, it hasn’t quite made it to hurricane strength, although it is still expected to become a hurricane during Saturday. Also during Saturday, Henri is expected to be in an environment that’s favorable for strengthening and thus it is still anticipated that Henri may strengthen into about a 100 to 110 mph hurricane at some point late Saturday and Saturday night as it heads northward and crosses the Gulf Stream. As we get into Sunday morning, Henri will exit the very warm ocean waters of the Gulf Stream and enter some water temperatures that are in the mid 70s. This means that Henri will likely weaken as it moves northward towards Long Island and Southern New England. How much it weakens before landfall will depend on how long it stays over the 75 Degree or so ocean waters just south of Southern New England. At this point, I think fairly steady weakening is likely on Sunday morning and Henri will probably make landfall as something like a 75 to 85 mph hurricane. The timing of landfall on Sunday has been pushed up a little. It is now anticipated that Henri will probably make landfall first on central and eastern Long Island near midday Sunday and then make a second landfall along the Connecticut coast between about New Haven and New London by mid-afternoon Sunday. Bottom line is that Henri is expected to make landfall as about a 75 to 85 mph hurricane first on the central or eastern part of Long Island around midday Sunday and then along the Connecticut coast between about New Haven and New London around mid-afternoon Sunday. A track across Western Mass is then expected during Sunday night into Monday all while weakening quite quickly. With that said, the slow movement of Henri means that it is likely to put down a lot of rainfall in some areas. More on that later. Forecast Impacts Across Southern New England: Wind: The strongest winds will occur to the east of where the center moves onshore. At the very least, I expect hurricane force winds along coastal parts of south-central and southeastern Connecticut and coastal Rhode Island from about midday Sunday to about early evening Sunday. The slight westward shift in the forecast track means that the Cape and Southeastern Mass may miss out on hurricane conditions. A large part of Connecticut along and east of I-91 is likely to see tropical storm force winds with wind gusts of up to 55 to 65 mph expected during Sunday afternoon into Sunday night. Further north, it now looks like tropical storm force winds can be expected across the lower Pioneer Valley of Western Mass eastward into Central Mass for areas near and south of the Mass Pike. Across these areas, wind gusts of up to 45 to 60 mph can be expected Sunday afternoon into Sunday night. I advise everyone across Western and Central Mass to be ready, at least, for downed trees with power outages. The ground is super saturated and thus the tree roots are weakened because of it. This means it’s only going to take wind gusts of 35 to 40 mph or so to start pushing over trees. Also, the wind direction will be from a southeasterly direction, which trees are not used to and thus they are more susceptible to being blown over. Rain & Flash Flooding: The highest rainfall totals are expected on the western side of the storm track and this potentially means that Western Mass and especially areas west of I-91 is likely to receive 5 to 10 inches of total rainfall with locally much higher amounts possible. What really concerns me is that Henri is expected to be a very slow moving storm, which is highly unusual for New England tropical systems. This means that I’m very concerned that Henri may end up raining itself out over us over a 2 to 3 day period leading to some extremely high rain totals across Western Mass. Further east, it now appears that rain totals of 2 to 5 inches can be expected across Central Mass. Even with these totals, flash flooding is likely given the already very wet ground. I think that flash flooding and even the potential for major, catastrophic flash flooding is all but certain across Western and Central Mass from Henri. Storm Surge Flooding & Marine Impacts: The track of Henri from southeast to northwest across Southern New England is likely to drive a higher than normal storm surge into coastal areas of Southern New England. In addition to this, the combination of the Full Moon and the numerous bays and sounds along the south coast of New England will also enhance the potential storm surge and will likely produce a much more significant coastal flood event than one might see with a weakening hurricane or tropical storm in New England. Overall, I think that we may be looking at a storm surge that reaches upwards of 4 to 7 feet above ground level along the entire south coast of New England. Tornado Threat: There is the possibility for a few spin up tornadoes in association with Henri during Sunday afternoon and Sunday night, especially across Central and Eastern Mass. Depending on how long Henri lingers over our area, the tornado threat could last into Monday across the entire area. I highly encourage everyone across Southern New England to continue getting ready for the potential impacts from Henri. You have all day today (Saturday) to get ready for potential flooding and the possibility of downed trees and power outages. In Closing, My biggest concerns right now with Henri in Southern New England are:
1. Heavy Rain & Flash Flooding - Extremely saturated ground will not be able to hold another 2 to 5 inches of rainfall across Central Mass or 5 to 10 inches of rainfall across Western Mass. Because of this, flash flooding could be a BIG problem. 2. Storm Surge - The angle of the storm's track to the coast is such that I am really concerned about some significant coastal flooding, especially along the South Coast of New England. Also, the full moon is on Sunday & this will lead to already abnormally high tides. This means that we are really going to have to watch for some serious coastal flooding.
3. Wind - The wind threat is actually my least concern as right now it appears that Henri will be weakening fairly quickly as it makes landfall due to cooler waters south of New England. So, overall I think that 45-65 mph wind gusts should occur across much of Southern New England with perhaps 75-95 mph wind gusts along the Connecticut and Rhode Island coast when Henri makes landfall. Again, my biggest concern is the potential for big time flash flooding and this should not be underestimated or discounted. I continue to closely watch Henri and I promise that I'll be with you every step of the way to guide you through this storm.