Tropical Storm Henri was downgraded from a category 1 hurricane hours before approaching Long Island, veering east of Montauk, and sparing Long Island the first hurricane to make landfall in 36 years.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported Sunday that Henri is expected to make landfall in southern New England, but will still bring to LI dangerous storm surge in low-lying waterfront communities, heavy rains that will cause flash flooding inland, and up to 60-mph wind gusts that will down trees and power lines on the East End, causing power outages that PSEG-Long Island said could last 7 to 10 days.
“Given the gusty winds and the rain, it’s best to stay at home avoid travel,” said Dominic Ramunniramunni, a Upton-based NWS meteorologist, noting that the storm is forecast to stall over New England and bring more rain bands to LI through Monday evening.
The National Weather Service (NWS) replaced the hurricane warning for Suffolk County with a tropical storm warning, while a storm surge warning is still in effect for much of the region and the entire Island is under a flood watch. The NHC warned that Henri could produce storm surges — when ocean waters are pushed above their normal level — of 3 to 5 feet in some areas, as well as bringing rainfall of 3 to 6 inches.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone had issued a voluntary evacuation order for Fire Island on Saturday, warning that those who stay behind may endure dangerous conditions and be unable to leave once ferries are canceled Sunday. Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an emergency declaration for LI . The Long Island Rail Road suspended service between Patchogue and Montauk as well as to or from Greenport. Several airlines issued travel alerts and were offering vouchers for tickets on flights in and out of the region over the weekend.
In Amagansett, residents packed supermarkets, hardware and liquor stores early Saturday morning. At the IGA supermarket, shelves were stripped bare of toilet paper, paper towels and other supplies. Motorists waited in long lines at gas stations while stores ran out of flashlights.
Michael Cinque, the owner of the Amagansett Wine & Spirit, deliberated whether to board up the windows of his store as shoppers streamed in and left with bottles of tequila, vodka and expensive liquors.
“You always have to be prepared,” said Cinque, who has owned the store for 42 years and also volunteers as an emergency responder. “You have to take it seriously.”