Even before making landfall, Tropical Storm Henri impacted New York City with record-breaking rainfall in a surprise Saturday night downpour.
In Central Park, lightning from the storm stopped the WE LOVE NYC: The Homecoming Concert, before hitting the event with daily record rainfall of 4.45 inches. The National Weather Service reported that this topped the previous daily record of 4.19 inches back in 1888. The concert organizers had hoped to restart the event at 10pm, but another hour of rain totaling 1.94 inches between 10pm and 11pm was recorded as the rainiest hour in over 150 years of recorded history.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was among many surprised by Saturday evening’s weather. Before the concert, the Mayor had tweeted: “As of now we do not expect the weather to have any major impact on tonight’s concert in Central Park and the show will go on!”
Heavy rain from Henri overwhelmed storm drains late Saturday and Sunday morning, flooding roadways around New York and New Jersey. In Brooklyn, drivers were rescued from their vehicles after they got stuck in a flash flood beneath the Gowanus Expressway late on Saturday night.
Henri is not projected to make landfall until this afternoon — but the better news is that it has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm. It is still likely to deposit another 3 to 6 inches of rain as it passes through the city. Flash flood warnings were issued beginning last night.
Overnight, several subway lines were suspended. Straphangers were told to “stay home if you can” as Henri flooded train tracks, streets and subways. At this point, subway services have resumed but the Long Island Railroad services out to Montauk and Greenpoint have been suspended, as well as Metro-North services on the entire New Haven line.
The National Weather Service reported that at 11am the center of Tropical Storm Henri passed close to Block Island, 50 miles south-southwest of Providence, Rhode Island. “Henri is moving to the north-northwest at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph with higher gusts. Point Judith, RI, reported a gust to 69 mph,” they said.
Yesterday, Fire Island residents and visitors were urged to evacuate by boat, with the last departure at 10.40pm on Saturday. “I urge residents to check ferry service times and make plans to leave the barrier island today. They will be stuck on the island and we do not know what kind of conditions they may be facing. But they could be difficult. They could be dangerous,” said Steve Bellone, the Suffolk County Executive. However, some residents have remained.