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More than 50 million in the US are under extreme weather warnings

August 22, 2021

Henri weakened slightly from a hurricane to a tropical storm on Sunday morning, as its outer bands continued moving over the US Northeast, saturating many areas and posing flooding danger for millions.

Henri’s anticipated landfall on Long Island or southern New England late Sunday morning or early in the afternoon is expected to pose risks to much of the surrounding area.

And even if it doesn’t hit those areas as a hurricane, it will be dangerous enough to bring damaging winds and storm surges that threaten to bring down trees and power lines along with major flooding.

Henri is about 50 miles southeast of Montauk Point, New York, with 70 mph sustained winds, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC). A hurricane has winds of 74 mph or higher.

A hurricane warning was in effect for much of the Long Island coast along with parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts and Block Island.

A combination of storm surge warnings and watches were in place for much of Long Island and the Massachusetts coastline, the NHC said. A storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline.

“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” NHC forecasters said.

There’s also a chance tornadoes may form Sunday over southern New England, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said.

A hurricane landfall in the region would be rare. Long Island has not had a direct hurricane hit since Gloria in 1985; New England last saw a hurricane landfall with Hurricane Bob in 1991.

Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey in 2012 with hurricane force winds and devastated swaths of the Northeast, though it was a post-tropical cyclone when it came ashore.

Henri’s wind field –which is the three-dimensional radius around the storm– at landfall is expected to be a quarter of the size of Sandy’s, CNN meteorologists said.

“Henri is a much more compact storm than Sandy was when it made landfall,” CNN weather producer Robert Shackelford said.

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