August 20, 2021

Hurricane Warnings Issued As Henri Aims For New England This Weekend

Hurricane warnings are in effect for parts of Northeast this afternoon as Tropical Storm Henri strengthens in the western Atlantic Ocean. The storm is expected to grow into a hurricane Friday night or Saturday, making landfall on or near Long Island during the day on Sunday. This will be one of the strongest storms the region has seen in recent years.

Here's what you need to know.

Henri Heading Toward New England This Weekend

Henri was on the cusp of hurricane strength at the National Hurricane Center's 5:00 p.m. update, packing maximum sustained winds of 70 mph with higher gusts. The system's tropical storm force winds (39+ mph) extend more than 100 miles from the center of the storm.

The storm is entering a pattern over the western Atlantic that will force it to steer into New England. We've known this scenario was a possibility for a few days now. The vast majority of storms in this part of the basin wind up heading out to sea, though a few manage to curve into land. Henri is on track to be one of those storms.

Henri began to turn north on Friday evening as clockwise winds blowing around a Bermuda High took over steering the storm. A ridge of high pressure over Eastern Canada will block the storm from racing northeast out to sea, forcing it to slow down and curve into the northeastern United States.

The NHC expects Henri to make landfall at or near hurricane strength in New England on Sunday afternoon, weakening as it pushes inland and turns to the east through early next week.

The storm's anticipated track and slow motion will bring an extended period of dangerous weather to highly populated areas. This is likely going to be a high-impact storm.

Widespread Watches And Warnings

A hurricane warning (red) is in effect for much of Long Island and most coastal communities in central and eastern Connecticut.

A tropical storm warning (blue) is in effect for Nassau County, NY, as well as southern Westchester and Fairfield Counties in Connecticut. 

A hurricane watch (pink) is in effect for southern Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, including Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Block Island, and Cape Cod. Hurricane watches also extend inland into Connecticut.

A tropical storm watch (yellow) is in effect for New York City, much of northeastern New Jersey (including Newark, New Brunswick, and Sandy Hook), as well as inland portions of Westchester and Fairfield Counties.

All of these watches and warnings are likely to adjust over the next day or so as forecasters refine Henri's track as it approaches the region. Everyone from New York City to Boston needs to prepare for the worst in case the storm's track shifts in their direction.


The points on the track map only apply to the very center of the storm. Strong winds currently extend more than 100 miles from the center of the storm. This will be a significant wind event for New England.

Sustained hurricane force winds (74+ mph) are possible across communities under hurricane watches and warnings. Higher gusts are possible. Tropical storm force winds (39-73 mph) are possible across a wide area extending from New York City to Cape Cod, and as far inland from the coast as the Berkshires. 

This is going to be stronger than your run-of-the-mill nor'easter. For some areas in New England, this storm will have stronger winds and last longer than all of the nor'easters and tropical systems since at least Hurricane Irene in 2011, if not before then.

Power Outages

Last year, Isaias roared through the northeastern states as a tropical storm and caused millions of power outages that lasted for a week or longer in some communities. This will hit the area as a stronger storm than Isaias.

We're very likely going to see widespread and potentially long-lasting power outages across the affected areas.

Keep physical flashlights and battery replacements on hand. It's important to conserve your cell phone battery during a power outage. You don't want to waste precious charge using your phone's flashlight to find your way to the bathroom, y'know what I mean?

USB recharging packs for smartphones are pretty affordable these days and they're relatively easy to find at most stores. They're totally worth it. They've helped me out a few times during extended power outages.

Make sure you have non-perishable food that doesn't require cooking—stuff like canned ravioli, fruit cups, bread, PB&J, and all that good stuff. Keep some bottled water (or fill up your own containers) for drinking, food prep, and personal hygiene.

It's a good idea to fill up a bathtub with water in the off-chance water service goes out. You'll need it to flush the toilet.

Tree Damage Likely

A sustained period of strong winds will produce widespread tree damage, especially in communities with large and old trees that may not be able to withstand the intensity of a landfalling hurricane.

Please stay mindful of nearby trees and tree limbs.

Downed trees and tree limbs will damage homes—potentially leading to serious injuries and deaths—and make some roads impassable for a time during and after the storm.

If your bedroom (for instance) is located near a wall or roof where a tree could fall during high winds, consider having a slumber party in a safer part of the house to reduce your risk if the worst happens.

Storm Surge

Storm surge is flooding caused by strong, persistent winds pushing seawater inland along the coast. The effects and depth of storm surge vary greatly depending on wind direction, the shape of the coast, the depth of the water near shore, whether it's high tide or low tide, and how long the winds last.

The highest storm surge usually occurs in the right-front quadrant of the storm, where the winds are the strongest and they're blowing onshore.

Based on Henri's forecast track, this would put the deepest storm surge into parts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as well as their respective islands. These areas could see 3-5 feet of storm surge inundation during the height of the storm.

Elsewhere, a storm surge several feet above ground level is possible during the worst of the storm. This kind of flooding doesn't seem like much, but it would be dangerous and life-threatening for folks near the coast.

This will be not be a repeat of Sandy. A storm doesn't need to go toe-to-toe with Sandy to pose a significant threat to life and property. Please take Henri and its hazards seriously.

Flash Flooding

Heavy, tropical rainfall will lead to a widespread flash flooding threat across New England as the storm pushes ashore. Henri's slow track inland will allow the storm to produce heavy rainfall for an extended period of time.

The Weather Prediction Center's latest forecast calls for 5+ inches of rain across central Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and southern Vermont, with higher totals likely in some locations. Several inches of rain are possible from New York City to Boston and north through New Hampshire.

Heavy rain will lead to widespread flash flooding, especially in urban areas, along waterways, and areas where runoff is exacerbated by local terrain.

Freshwater flooding is the leading cause of death for landfalling tropical cyclones in the United States. It only takes a few inches of moving water to lift a vehicle and carry it downstream.

Never drive across a flooded roadway. It's impossible to tell how deep the water is until it's too late, and sometimes the road is washed away beneath the water.


Tornadoes are always a threat when tropical cyclones make landfall. Right now, the Storm Prediction Center doesn't have any areas outlined at risk for tornadoes during Henri's landfall. It's a threat worth watching as we get closer to landfall.

The threat for tornadoes is most common on the right side of a storm relative to its forward motion. Just file it away in the back of your mind if you live in the region, and make sure your phone's wireless emergency alerts are activated for tornado warnings.


The National Hurricane Center releases updates every three hours as long as watches and warnings are in effect. Full forecast packages come out at 5:00 a.m/p.m. and 11:00 a.m./p.m. (EDT), with intermediate updates on the storm's current stats every three hours in between.

Your local National Weather Service office issues local forecasts, watches, and warnings for your location.

The Storm Prediction Center is responsible for issuing daily severe weather outlooks and tornado watches.

The Weather Prediction Center issues excessive rainfall outlooks and precipitation amount forecasts several times a day.

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.