(TNS) Tropical Storm Henri is wringing out rain across New England and sweeping the region with gusty winds after it came ashore in Rhode Island.
The storm drove the ocean 1- to 2-feet higher as it made landfall near Westerly, Rhode Island, with top winds of 60 miles per hour. More than 125,000 homes and businesses are without power across the region, according to Poweroutage.us, which tracks outages.
Henri is the latest in a grim parade of extreme weather events worldwide as climate change takes hold. Massive wildfires have blackened huge swaths of California, Greece, Algeria and Siberia, sending smoke over the North Pole for the first time on record. July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.
It’s the fifth storm to hit the U.S. in 2021 and the eighth to form in the Atlantic. Henri is expected to linger across southern New England bringing as much as 6 inches of rain to a landscape that has been drenched by weeks of downpours, which could make flooding worse. It will then sweep across southern Maine and head for the Canadian Maritimes.
Flooding has been reported across the Northeast, disrupting transportation. Amtrak canceled trains between New York and Boston. Some subway tunnels were inundated in New York City. And about 1,000 flights were canceled as of 11 a.m., mostly in Boston and Newark, New Jersey, according to Flight Aware, an airline tracking service.
More than 13,500 utility workers from dozens of states are on standby to help restore power, according to the Edison Electric Institute, a utility trade group.
As early as Sunday morning, Henri was still a hurricane, with top winds of 75 mph. But it lost power on its final approach.
“It didn’t come in as ferocious as predicted,” said Jim Rouiller, lead meteorologist at the Energy Weather Group. “I was expecting a bit more out of it but it really hasn’t materialized.”
A continental storm coming across Pennsylvania seems to have sapped some of Henri’s energy and moisture, Rouiller said. It also helped slow Henri down as it crossed an area of cooler water that robbed it of its strength.
Hurricanes and tropical storms depend on warm ocean water to build power and maintain strength. The cooler water has just the opposite effect and that could mean that the feared flooding and power outage won’t be as bad.
But flooding could still be severe, and officials braced for the worst.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday declared a state of emergency, and thousands of residents and vacationers evacuated beach communities — or in some cases, opted to hunker down. A mandatory evacuation order was issued for some residents nearest the coast in Madison, Connecticut, across Long Island Sound.