The East Coast braced to take a direct hit from Hurricane Henri as it threatened to pound the region with fierce winds and heavy rains that could cause “life-threatening” storm surge and flooding, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
As of the afternoon, the storm was gathering strength, packing 75 mph (120 kph) winds while it moved north about 210 miles east of North Carolina. On its current track, Henri was expected to make landfall in Long Island, New York, or southern New England on Sunday, the center said in an advisory.
More than 42 million people in the region were under a hurricane or tropical storm warning, the NHC said.
Parts of Long Island, New York, and New Haven, Connecticut, were under hurricane and storm surge warnings. Other parts of New England, such as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, were under surge and tropical storm watches and warnings.
“This is a life-threatening situation. Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions,” the NHC said.
New York City was under a tropical storm warning. Mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents in an online post to stay home on Sunday and to use public transportation if they need to travel.
Emergency management officials said heavy rainfall and damaging winds could flood roadways and reduce visibility throughout the weekend.
“Secure outdoor objects and make sure you are in a safe location before the onset of wind and rain!” New York City Emergency Management Commissioner John Scrivani wrote in a post on Saturday.
The center warned Henri could produce storm surges of 3 to 5 feet along the coast in New England, 75 mph or higher wind gusts and rains of 3 to 6 inches with 10 inches in isolated areas.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency on Saturday afternoon. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont activated the National Guard in their states to help in possible rescue, debris clearing and public safety efforts.