Hurricane Henri – Updated Thoughts

Henri now a hurricane. Tropical Storm Warning posted for the Cape. Still some time for track shifts.

  • 11AM advisory upgraded Henri to a hurricane
  • Landfall expected Sunday over Long Island
  • Tropical Storm Warning posted for Cape Cod
  • Storm Surge Warning posted
  • Still some time for track adjustments
  • Be prepared for some power outages, coastal flooding – better safe than sorry

The official 11AM forecast track from the National Hurricane Center takes Henri into the eastern end of Long Island Sunday and then into Connecticut Sunday evening.

This track is notably further west than things were looking a couple of days ago – which is good news for the Cape.

Even so, we’ll have some notable weather to deal with during the day on Sunday and folks should prepare for a period of stormy weather.

As these tropical systems come up the coast they tend to get lopsided with heavy rain on the western side of the storm and strong wind on the eastern side of the system. With that in mind and with the Henri’s center passing to our west, we will certainly be on the windy side of this upcoming storm. That said, the Cape will be quite a good distance from Henri’s (anticipated) landfall point and Henri won’t undergo a massive wind field expansion like we sometimes see with landfalling New England storms. As a result, the Cape will likely be on the far eastern side of the system’s circulation and removed from the strongest winds. It’s looking more likely that southeastern Connecticut, coastal Rhode Island and maybe south coastal Massachusetts (Fairhaven, New Bedford?) get into the core of stronger winds from Henri – this matches up quite well with the current warnings from the National Hurricane Center with a Hurricane Warning for Coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island and Tropical Storm Warnings locally.

In terms of wind here on the Cape – I would expect sustained winds on the order of 25 to 35 mph with gusts over 50 mph for a time for most of the Cape. It’s certainly possible that parts of Buzzards Bay (think coastal East Falmouth, Woods Hole, North Falmouth, Pocasset etc) could gust to 60 mph at the height of the storm and likewise exposed coastal spots should have a period of sustained tropical storm force winds (greater than 39 mph). As a result, we should see some pockets of tree and limb damage and likely some scattered power outages around the region. Charge up your cell phones and have some extra batteries around.

In terms of rainfall locally – I don’t anticipate much rain (understatement) from Henri on Cape Cod. We should see some short-lived tropical downpours (maybe hear a rumble of thunder) move through the area very late tonight or during the early part of Sunday as some initial outer feeder bands rotate across the region. However, nearly all of Henri’s deep moisture will be focused west of the Cape and we should go the brunt of the day tomorrow with very little, if any, precipitation falling. IN FACT, I would not be surprised at all if the sun comes out at times during the day tomorrow (doesn’t mean it’s safe to be out and about).

In terms of storm surge locally – the National Hurricane Center has issued a Storm Surge Warning for the region, with the possibility of 3 to 5′ of water rise with the approach and passage of Henri. Hopefully this represents the worst case scenario and we don’t see that level of impact across a good portion of the area but it is best to follow the warnings of NHC. I anticipate the worst of the surge will be from about Woods Hole up to North Falmouth / Bourne / Pocasset and over to Onset / Wareham as water gets funneled up Buzzards Bay. Tides are on the higher side with the full moon so it’ll be easier for inundation from the surge. If you are in a low-lying location susceptible to flooding, it’s a good idea to heed any locally issued advisories.

A couple of quick closing notes: 1) there is still some time for Henri to strengthen and there is still a window for a shift a bit further east in its track. That’ll be monitored through the day today and into tonight. 2) Overall – I don’t think this is “The Big One” but don’t make it worse than it is – don’t do stupid things. Don’t go surfing, climb trees, drive around during the height of the storm, stand at the beach, take selfies from a jetty, touch downed power wires, use generators indoors, leave candles unattended, bring your grill inside, drive through flooded roads, use chainsaws when you don’t know how to, etc etc etc.