Henri intensified into a hurricane Saturday morning as it made its way into the Northeast, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Henri, which currently has continuous winds of 75 mph, is projected to make landfall on southern New England or Long Island on Sunday at or near hurricane intensity, according to the hurricane center.
Extreme weather warnings have already been issued throughout the Northeast as people in millions brace for what may be the first storm to directly hit New England or Long Island in many decades.
The National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Henri, which had sustained gusts of 70 miles/hour Saturday morning, is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane on Saturday over the Atlantic and remain at or near hurricane intensity when it makes landfall Sunday around or southern New England or Long Island.
The system is expected to have a wide impact, extending from Long Island and New York City to the portions of New England. Hurricane-force winds and torrential rains may begin late Saturday in some of these regions.
And since the area is already wet from many weeks of rain, Henri may easily knock down trees and electrical wires, causing days of blackouts.
According to Deanne Criswell from CNN, people must treat this storm with extreme caution. Even if the hurricane does not reach landfall, the tropical force winds and storm surge may inflict considerable damage.
She said that people are going to see fallen trees, power outages and even after the storm passes, the danger of falling branches and limbs remains.
The warnings for hurricanes have been issued for over 5 million people in regions spanning the south and north coasts of Long Island, as well as from New Haven to the west of Watch Hill, Rhode Island.
Over 35 million people are under the crucial tropical storm warnings, which includes significant portions of New York and Jersey, including southern New England and New York City.
Since Gloria made landfall on Long Island in 1985, no storm has made landfall on the island. Storm Bob made landfall in New England in 1991, the last time a hurricane did so.
Storm surges are also a significant concern: the storm center warned Sunday that surges of between three and five feet are likely in locations ranging from Long Island to Chatham.
The hurricane center warned residents in areas under storm surge warnings must consider all the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their properties from rising water and the possibility of additional hazardous circumstances.
Through Monday, portions of southeast New York and New England may experience 3-6 inches of widespread rainfall, with isolated totals approaching 10 inches likely — which could result in flash floods, urban flooding, and stream and river flooding.
Sunday, isolated tornadoes are possible across southern New England.
Rip currents will also be a threat from North Carolina to Massachusetts when, on Saturday, Henri travels parallel towards the East Coast. On Friday alone, the National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina, recorded more than fifty rescues from rip currents.