Hurricane Henri: New York experiences wettest hour ever as storm hits

‘Turn around, don’t drown,’ meteorologist says urging drivers to stay out flooded areas

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 23 August 2021 16:28

Storm Henri brings heavy flooding to northeast US

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New York City has experienced its wettest hour ever as Hurricane Henri pummeled the US East Coast.

According to the National Weather Service, 1.94 inches (4.93 centimetres) of rain hit Central Park between 10 and 11pm on Saturday. This weekend was the wettest two days since Tropical Storm Irene pummeled the city a decade ago, National Weather Service meteorologist Dominic Ramunni told The Associated Press.

“I call it the wettest hour in New York City, New York, for the record books,” Mr Ramunni said. “We’re going to see additional rainfall through tonight as well so who knows what records may be broken here over the next 24 to 36 hours,” he said on Sunday.

The rain on Saturday led to the cancelling of a Homecoming concert in Central Park as 4.5 inches (11.4 centimetres) of rainfall came crashing down, breaking a record from 1888. Sunday set even further records as 2.24 inches (5.69 centimetres) had fallen before 6pm. The concert was hastily ended as Barry Manilow prepared to perform Can’t Smile Without You.

More than 100 residents were evacuated from their homes in Helmetta, New Jersey, after Tropical Storm Henri, downgraded from a hurricane on Sunday, came crashing through the area, CBS New York reported. Later on Sunday night, the storm was downgraded again to a Tropical Depression.

Members of the New Market Volunteer Fire Company perform a secondary search during an evacuation effort following a flash flood, as Tropical Storm Henri makes landfall, in Helmetta, New Jersey

The National Hurricane Centre said that as the storm hit Rhode Island, winds could be as strong as 60mph. Throughout Monday, Henri is expected to go through parts of southern New England and the northern Atlantic states.

On Sunday night, the National Hurricane Centre said: “Henri is expected to slow down further and possibly stall near the Connecticut-New York border tonight, then move across Massachusetts on Monday afternoon and Monday night and over the Atlantic on Tuesday.”

The centre added that the heavy rainfall could lead to minor to moderate flooding of rivers and more significant flash flooding of urban areas and smaller streams.

A New Market Volunteer Fire Company rescue crew member wades through high waters following a flash flood, as Tropical Storm Henri makes landfall, in Helmetta, New Jersey

The National Weather Service in Boston said on Sunday that “the remnants of Henri will move back across southern New England Monday, possibly resulting in renewed flooding from scattered showers and storms that will be accompanied by torrential downpours. Also, an isolated brief tornado can’t be ruled out Monday”.

Hurricane and storm surge watches have been issued for the northeastern coastline, from New Haven, Connecticut, north of New York City, to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts, south of Boston.

More than 140,000 between New Jersey and Maine were without power during the storm’s peak on Sunday. The storm system was almost stationary around 5am on Monday morning as it hovered off the coast of New York City, about 60 miles out.

“It’s stalled right now, but should begin moving slowly to the east later this morning and into the afternoon,” Dennis Feltgen at the National Hurricane Centre, told The New York Times. “Rain is still falling and will continue today.” About 6.32 inches of rain had fallen in Brooklyn as of early Monday.

“Motorists should not attempt to drive around barricades or drive through flooded areas,” Mr Feltgen said, citing that most flooding deaths occur in vehicles. “Turn around, don’t drown.”

Henri is the second storm of the season to pummel the northeast following Tropical Storm Elsa last month, leading Providence, Rhode Island, and New Bedford, Massachusetts to close their Hurricane barriers in their seaports for the first time since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

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