Despite a significant shift in Henri's track, moving the storm west, many parts of Massachusetts are continuing to prepare for the potential for heavy rain and wind.
Parts of the Northeast could begin to experience impacts from Henri as soon as late Saturday, as the system that is expected to become a hurricane by the end of the day barrels toward the region.
Storm surge and the tide could cause high water in coastal New England as Henri moves inland, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. Heavy rain and wind may also produce flooding.
Forecasters said Henri was expected to become a hurricane Saturday. It was expected to be at or near hurricane strength when it makes landfall midafternoon Sunday, which the hurricane center said could be in New York’s Long Island or southern New England, most likely Connecticut.
Henri is veering a bit further west than originally expected, and if that track holds, it would have eastern Long Island in its bullseye rather than New England, which hasn’t taken a direct hit from a hurricane since Hurricane Bob in 1991, a Category 2 storm that killed at least 17 people.
Regardless of its exact landfall, broad impacts were expected across a large swath of the Northeast, extending inland to Hartford, Connecticut, and Albany, New York, and eastward to Cape Cod, which is teeming with tens of thousands of summer tourists.
As of Saturday, the Cape and the Islands are no longer under a hurricane watch because of the storm's modeled change in direction.
Still, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged people vacationing on the Cape to leave well before Henri hits, and those who planned to start vacations there to delay their plans. “We don’t want people to be stuck in traffic on the Cape Cod bridges when the storm is in full force on Sunday,” he said.
Fishermen were out Saturday morning taking advantage of the recent full moon which churned up waters, making it a prime environment to catch stripers.
Meanwhile, coastal cities and towns like Duxbury are experiencing an increase in vehicle traffic near harbors as people work to haul their boats out ahead of the storm.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation announced it will close Winthrop Parkway in Revere at 11.am. on Sunday to accommodate the closure of the Short Beach floodgate, due to the expected storm surge.
Approximately 63 trucks loaded with bottled water, tarps, food, and other emergency supplies arrived at Westover Air Base in Massachusetts on Friday evening and Saturday morning as the Federal Emergency Management Agency prepares for Tropical Storm Henri.
Westover is a FEMA Incident Support Base. The base has been utilized multiple times in the past by serving as a staging point for FEMA Region I, which encompasses all of New England.
New Bedford residents are being notified to prepare for hurricane Henri. The port city of roughly 95,000 residents will be one of the first in the Bay State to feel the effects of a hurricane for the first time in several years.
Mary Carreiro received mass voice mail message from the city mayor to take all precautions necessary. But the storm isn’t fazing her.
“We did put our furniture away, we did all that to get ready but we’re still going to out to eat dinner tonight and we’re just going to keep an eye on it. I’m just being honest because it’s New England,” said Carreiro.
The city isn’t taking any chances. One of the mayor’s major worries is high tide, which may cause up to 5 feet in storm surge.
“The glorious full moon is associated with serious tides, larger astronomical high and low tides, and so, how that times out will matter in terms of the vulnerability of low-lying areas,” said New Bedford City Mayor John Mitchell
Mitchell also warned any visitors thinking of coming to the city this weekend to avoid doing so, and to those already here to stay put, and not be fooled by the calm before the approaching storm.
New Bedford is relying on infrastructure like the hurricane barrier to keep some of that storm surge from flooding low lying areas. The mayor said the city gates will close if deemed necessary.
In Worcester, the city's Department of Public Works is working to clear out storm drains and catch basins. Crews are also setting up barriers along roads that typically flood to make sure that drivers don't try to traverse flooded areas.
Henri was centered Saturday morning about 195 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and about 555 miles south of Montauk Point, New York. It was a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds at 70 mph, and was moving north-northeast at 12 mph.
Gov. Ned Lamont warned Connecticut residents they should prepare to “shelter in place” from Sunday afternoon through at least Monday morning as the state braces for the first possible direct hit from a hurricane in decades.
“This storm is extremely worrisome,” said Michael Finkelstein, police chief and emergency management director in East Lyme, Connecticut. “We haven’t been down this road in quite a while and there’s no doubt that we and the rest of New England would have some real difficulties with a direct hit from a hurricane.”
The hurricane center storm surge between 3 and 5 feet was possible with Henri from Flushing, New York, to Chatham, Massachusetts; and for parts of the North Shore and South Shore of Long Island.
Rainfall between 3 to 6 inches was expected Sunday through Monday over the Northeast.
The weather service warned of the potential for damaging winds and widespread coastal flooding from Henri, and officials in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York cautioned that people could lose power for a week or even longer. Authorities urged people to secure their boats, fuel up their vehicles and stock up on canned goods.
Campgrounds were expected to be closed starting Saturday afternoon and remain off limits until Tuesday.
At Safe Harbor Marina in coastal Plymouth, Massachusetts, Steve Berlo was among the many boaters having their vessels pulled out of the water ahead of the storm.
“It’s rare, but when it happens, you want to be sure you’re ready,” said Berlo, 54. “Got to protect our second home.”