The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a tropical storm warning for Long Island and the tristate area Saturday as Tropical Storm Hermine loomed in the Atlantic Ocean just south of the region.
Hermine is forecast to bring sustained winds of up to 40 mph with up to 55 mph gusts that could cause significant property damage and downed tree limbs that may cause power outages. There is also an elevated threat of a storm surge of up to two feet causing coastal flooding. Only about an inch of rain is expected to fall as a result of the passing storm, forecasters said.
“The storm is…expected to drift north northeast while gradually intensifying tonight through early next week before gradually picking up pace as it slowly weakens and tracks southeast of Long Island and Cape Cod during the middle of next week,” NWS said in its tropical storm warning.
The storm made landfall as a category one hurricane with about 80 mph winds in northwestern Florida on Thursday night, but it later weakened to a tropical storm. It blew through Georgia and the Carolinas before emerging over the Atlantic again.
Nassau and Suffolk county officials have not issued evacuation orders for low lying coastal areas, but NWS forecasters warned residents to heed such orders if and when they are made.
The threat of the storm loomed over Labor Day weekend celebrations, especially in resort communities on Fire Island, where a $207 million beach reconstruction project has yet to be completed since Sandy flattened LI’s largest barrier island’s dunes four years ago.
Suffolk officials have said that the likelihood of the storm stalling off the coast of LI and creating several days of nor’easter-like weather could add to beach erosion on FI’s already vulnerable shores. Local officials also eyed the possibility of a short-term mass evacuation on the car-free area of FI that is only accessible by ferry or private boat on what is usually one of its busiest holiday weekends.
“Be prepared for the possible suspension of ferry service,” Saltaire Administrator Mario Posilico told anxious residents during a village board meeting on Saturday. Fire Island Ferries, the company serving the western FI communities, warned on its website that service may be suspended Sunday afternoon. Its last ferry off the island on Saturday will be 9:50 p.m., instead of its usual last boat at 1 a.m. on weekends.
The short-term forecast calls for cloudy skies Saturday in advance of the possibility of tropical storm conditions on Sunday and Labor Day through as late as Wednesday.
Local officials urged residents to visit BereadyLI.org for more storm preparedness information.