- Henri could make landfall as a hurricane Sunday between Long Island and Cape Cod.
- Storm surge, up to 5 feet in some areas, could be among the storm’s biggest threats.
- In North Carolina, 20 people were still missing due to flooding from Tropical Storm Fred.
NEW YORK — Tropical Storm Henri, forecast to become a hurricane by Saturday, had the Northeast in its sights as the path of the storm has continually shifted closer to land.
Threatening to bring damaging winds, as much as 8 inches of rain and up to 5 feet of storm surge, Henri could be the first significant hurricane to make landfall in New England in years.
The storm sparked memories of Hurricane Bob, which made landfall 30 years ago on Cape Cod, knocking out power and running water for days. Bob was the last hurricane to hit Cape Cod and the Islands.
Landfall could come between Long Island and Cape Cod on Sunday, said Da’Vel Johnson, a National Weather Service meteorologist in New York.
The impacts of every storm is slightly different, and with Henri, storm surge could be a significant threat, Johnson said.
“Going into Sunday, the waves and the swell off the water will start to rise,” he said.
Meanwhile, around 20 people were still missing in western North Carolina after severe flooding from Tropical Storm Fred inundated the state earlier this week. Gov. Roy Cooper assessed the damage Thursday, where some 200 water rescues took place along the still swollen Pigeon River.
And in the Gulf, Grace regained hurricane strength Friday before it is expected to crash into central Mexico for its second landfall in the country.
Henri prompts reminders of Bob in Cape Cod as parts of New York see first hurricane watches in 10 years
A combination of storm surge, damaging winds and heavy rain could bring serious damage to the Northeast from Henri.
Storm surge could reach 3 to 5 feet from Watch Hill, Rhode Island, to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts. The surge along Long Island and up into Rhode Island could reach 2 to 4 feet, while the Jersey Shore could see 1 to 3 feet of surge, the National Hurricane Center said.
Winds from Henri may arrive as soon as late Saturday into Sunday. Winds were up to 65 mph as it was spinning about 800 miles south-southwest of Nantucket, Massachusetts, as of Friday morning.
Rainfall of 2 to 5 inches was expected in southern New England, with some isolated patches of up to 8 inches, possibly causing flash flooding.
When Bob roared ashore on Aug. 19, 1991, much of the Cape and Islands in Massachusetts were devastated for days.
Cape Cod is more prepared now than for Hurricane Bob.What if the storm is worse?
“We shut the entire system down in response to Bob 30 years ago, but we wouldn’t have to do that today,” said William Hinkle, a spokesperson for the utility company Eversource.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service office in New York issued its first hurricane watches for part of its area in 10 years, when Hurricane Irene threatened the area in late August 2011. Sandy in 2012, though officially not a hurricane at landfall, also caused widespread devastation to the area.
Much of the eastern part of Long Island and coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island were under hurricane watches, while the coast closer to New York City was under a tropical storm watch.
“Everybody along the Long Island area and New York City needs to be watching,” Johnson said.
At least 20 still missing in North Caroline from Fred’s flooding
The damaging floods from Tropical Storm Fred were still causing problems in western North Carolina near Asheville, where at least two people were killed and 20 others still missing days after the storm rolled through.
Cooper on Thursday visited Canton within the hardest hit areas of the state experiencing flooding that washed houses away like unmoored boats and drowned residents caught in waters that rose at at lightning pace as they roared down mountain creeks beds.
“We know that the search and rescue efforts are not stopping until we know where people are or we’ve been able to find somebody,” Cooper said as rescue missions, with assistance from the Air National Guard, continued.
About 10 to 15 bridges were damaged, officials said, creating more difficulties in reaching people.
Water levels reached the point of a 100-year flood, an event that has a 1% chance of happening each year. That damaged the Canton water treatment plant and knocked out power to 50,000 customers.
Cooper said that number without power had shrunk to 1,672 and there was hope to get the water plant back on line by the weekend.
He issued a state of emergency along with an executive order that eased rules for first responders and farmers needing to save existing crops.
Grace to strike Mexico again
Hurricane Grace was about 185 miles east-northeast of Veracruz early Friday as the storm is forecast to hit Mexico a second time.
Grace made landfall Thursday in the Yucatan Peninsula, blocking many streets with fallen limbs and trees that pulled down power lines.
Most businesses remained closed, but the few that opened saw long lines of people waiting to buy tortillas and other food.
Quintana Roo Gov. Carlos Joaquín said the storm had knocked out power to some 84,000 customers in Cancun and 65,000 in Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Puerto Aventura and Tulum. But he said there were no reported deaths.
One lane of the highway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum was blocked by a fallen road sign. A gas station was destroyed when a large pavilion blew down, smashing two cars.
The storm’s winds on Friday had picked back up to 85 mph and it was headed west at 15 mph.
Contributing: Doug Fraser and Cynthia McCormick, Cape Cod Times; Joel Burgess, Asheville Citizen Times; The Associated Press