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  • Writer's pictureBryan Norcross

Henri forecast to make a rare hurricane hit on New England or Long Island – Grace heads to Mexico

The National Hurricane Center forecast and the consensus of the computer forecast models is that Henri with strengthen into a hurricane well off the Carolina coast and then head due north into or near southern New England or the eastern end of Long Island, New York. If hurricane-force winds impact the New England coast, it will be the first time since Hurricane Bob hit Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts in 1991. Although a number of hurricanes have hit that part of the country in the more distant past.

Henri has been fighting hostile upper winds and dry air as it slowly tracks in a clockwise loop over the warm ocean between Florida and Bermuda. But as it heads north tomorrow and Saturday, the upper winds are forecast to become conducive for strengthening and the environment is predicted to moisten. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Henri to be a strong Category 1 hurricane off the coast of New Jersey overnight Saturday night.

About that time, Henri will run out of warm water and should start to weaken. But a formidable storm is still expected to impact the Rhode Island and Massachusetts coast on Sunday. The eastern part of New York’s Long Island and Connecticut will also likely feel the effects of the storm. It’s not impossible they will get the direct impact, if Henri keeps favoring the left side of the cone.

The winds on the west side of the storm – over most of Long Island, for example – will not be as strong when the center of Henri is near the coast because they will be coming off the land. The winds rotate in a counter-clockwise direction around the circulation. But those winds will push the ocean water against all of the coastlines in the region.

Tides are forecast to peak 2 to 4 feet above normal high-tide level on both the north and south shores of Long Island, which will be especially noticeable because we are approaching King Tide season when the tides are unusually high anyway. The ocean water is currently forecast to be driven 3 to 5 feet above normal high tide on east-facing shores of New England.

Almost all storms that track north off the East Coast of the U.S. curve out to sea. But occasionally, as we most recently saw with Hurricane Sandy, but also happened with Eduardo in 1996 and Esther in 1961, the weather pattern traps the storm near the Northeast and New England coast.

In this case, a fairly strong bubble of high pressure over eastern Canada is forecast to block Henri from moving out to sea. In fact, if the forecast is right, it will help deflect the storm toward the coast and trap it there for a day or so, then only slowly let it free.

The current thinking is, the weather will deteriorate in eastern Long Island and southern New England late Saturday. The peak effects in terms of the wind will be on Sunday, and it will only slowly ease on Monday.

The storm is expect to drift or loop near the New England coast late in the weekend and early next week, and be continuously weakening all that time over the relatively chilly ocean waters. By later on Monday, a weaker Henri should be slowly moving away, but could continue to affect the coastal communities in New Hampshire and Maine.

It’s important for everybody along and near the affected coastlines to pay attention to local information. Every county and municipality is evaluating the forecast and how the rising water and wind might affect their area. If Henri hits eastern Long Island or southern New England head on, there will be very dangerous conditions in the affected areas.

Stay aware. Be informed.

Grace is ready to redevelop into a hurricane before it makes landfall in mainland Mexico late tonight. It looks like it will mostly impact the relatively lightly populated area north of Veracruz, but conditions will be very dangerous there and the mountain areas inland where torrential rain and mudslides are expected.

Interestingly, the system is forecast to die out over those tall mountains between the Gulf and the Pacific, but then regenerate into a new system when it gets back over the water. Assuming the circulation is totally disrupted as forecast, it will get a new name from the Eastern Pacific list.

On the other side of the Atlantic, a disturbance has a slight chance to develop. But more likely it will get wrapped in Saharan dust and die. In any case, it’s forecast to track toward the north.


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