Henri Downgraded To Tropical Storm, Heavy Rains And Wind Gusts Still Expected

A National Weather Service graphic showing Tropical Storm Henri's path towards Long Island and then along the eastern seaboard of New England

National Weather Service / NOAA

Henri was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm by Sunday morning, but the National Weather Service cautioned, “Regardless of designation, impacts remain the same. Gusty winds and heavy rain continue through the morning and afternoon.”

After days of warnings, residents in the New York City region are preparing for power outages—PSE&G on Long Island said outages could take two weeks to repair—and flooding. Fire Island was “voluntarily” evacuated, and Governor Andrew Cuomo put New York City; Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties; the Hudson Valley and other parts of upstate under a state of emergency.

A ferry in the weather, with people seen on deck


Ferry approaches the harbor dock area in Bay Shore, N.Y., as it arrived from Fire Island on August 21, 2021.

Craig Ruttle/AP/Shutterstock

On Sunday, the governor framed the storm’s path as a good news and not-so-good news situation: The good news being that the storm was now heading east, due to hit Long Island around 11 a.m., and the not-so-good news being that Henri was poised to bend west.

Forecasts showed that Henri would slow down once it hit Long Island, prompting him to say, “a slow storm is a problematic storm.” Cuomo expressed concern for rainfall, especially in Westchester, which could get up to five inches, and the Catskills and Hudson Valley.

“You have hills, you have creeks, the water comes running down those hills, hits what was a creek and turns it into a ravaging river,” he warned.

MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said that NYC Transit bus and subway operations were in tact, and mentioned all the preparations for Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North that had been made on Saturday. Thousands of MTA workers had been summoned to work, Lieber said, to prevent flooding and other storm-related issues.

Rick Cotton of the Port Authority revealed that as of Sunday morning, 23% of flights at Laguardia Airpot were canceled, while 11% were scrapped at JFK and 22% at Newark.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also called a state of emergency for New York City. While de Blasio had, on Saturday, said the “We Love NYC Homecoming concert” would proceed in the evening, a thunderstorm cut the highly-anticipated event short. Organizers asked attendees to leave during Barry Manilow’s performance, and ended up cancelling the concert, without performances from Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Maluma, and The Killers.

In fact, Saturday’s rain broke Central Park’s record, with 4.45 inches falling.

Over six inches of rainfall was also recorded in Brooklyn on Saturday.

Dominic Ramunni, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said, “We’re expecting Henri to make landfall this morning,” possibly in Rhode Island, adding that “The center of storm will miss east Long Island.”

Gusty winds are a real concern—up to 70 miles per hour—and there will be heavy rain, Ramunni explained, “The bulk of the impacts will begin to diminish in the late afternoon hours… May slowdown and stall over upstate New York,” with “more rain throughout that area through tomorrow.”

“New York City’s weather should improve by later tonight and will begin to dry out,” he said.

“I’ve already heard from people storm is a dud or bust,” Ramunni said. “There are significant impacts with this storm. Really don’t let your guard down today.”

With reporting from Jessica Gould