New England Readies for Tropical Storm Henri

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U.S.|New Englanders are preparing for their first direct hurricane hit in 30 years.

Crews used a pump on Thursday to clear a parking lot in Lynn, Mass., that was flooded by heavy rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred. A more powerful storm is headed for the region this weekend. 
Credit...Cj Gunther/EPA, via Shutterstock

Ellen Barry

  • Aug. 20, 2021Updated 2:37 p.m. ET

Massachusetts residents can expect a three- to five-foot storm surge along the coast, tropical storm-force winds and loss of power to as many as 300,000 homes over the weekend, Gov. Charlie Baker warned on Friday, as the state braced for what is forecast to be the first hurricane to make landfall in New England in 30 years.

Governor Baker said he had activated as many as 1,000 members of the state’s National Guard to assist in high-water rescues and in clearing debris. He did not call for evacuations, but advised drivers to put off travel to Cape Cod that they had planned for Saturday, and to avoid being on the roads during the brunt of the storm on Sunday and Monday.

“We all need to take this storm extremely seriously,” the governor said at a news conference. “The simple point here is, we really would like everybody to be off the road at the height of this storm.”

The storm, Henri, is forecast to make landfall in southern New England on Sunday as a strong tropical storm or possibly as a Category 1 hurricane if its sustained winds exceed 74 miles an hour. But its track is still uncertain, and it could also hit Long Island or swerve out to sea.

A Friday morning update from the National Hurricane Center warned of “life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline” in an area stretching from Long Island to Cape Cod, and said there would be “large and dangerous waves” along the coast.

Flooding was expected in Boston, where officials said they were building barriers around the city’s most vulnerable subway station and would suspend some transit services on Sunday.

Massachusetts saw heavy rains on Thursday that quickly inundated roads, requiring emergency workers to retrieve people from cars caught in high water. Governor Baker offered a pointed warning to motorists not to take a chance by driving into water.

“In a storm like this, people should turn around and not drown,” he said. “In other words, don’t drive into the giant puddles that will exist on many roads around the commonwealth.”

In 1991, Hurricane Bob tore its way up the East Coast, making landfall as a Category 2 storm and causing significant damage on Long Island and in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. More than a dozen people died in the storm, and millions more were affected by downed trees, winds of up to 100 miles an hour, power outages and flooding.

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