An unusual origin, and 4 other things to know about Henri


The eighth tropical system of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season has been one of the most memorable so far this year, in part due to its unusual route leading up to its landing in one of the most densely populated regions. populated United States.

Henri made landfall on Sunday August 22 in southern New England as a tropical storm, affecting residents, businesses and visitors alike.

“We’re here for the summer. It’s kinda crazy, the house was shaking,” Ellen Scully told AccuWeather national reporter Bill Waddell on Sunday. Scully was in Charlestown, Rhode Island, living in a beach house and suffered the tropical storm firsthand.

“We don’t have electricity. We knew it could happen, so we expected the generator to be up and running,” Scully added.

Ellen Scully talks about Tropical Storm Henri when it hit Rhode Island on Sunday, August 22, 2021. (AccuWeather / Bill Waddell)

These disruptive impacts were felt all along the Atlantic coast on one of the busiest weekends for beach vacations.

Beachgoers as far south as the Carolinas must have been treading water throughout the weekend as Henri caused choppy waves and dangerous reverse currents. That meant vacationers who had planned a beach weekend months ago found themselves unable to take full advantage of some of the highest ocean temperatures of all year.

Henri was not the strongest storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, and it will be far from the last, but his unusual demeanor and track has already made him a storm that stands out above the rest so far this season.

On Sunday August 14, Tropical Depression Eight formed before strengthening into Tropical Storm Henri, but the origins of this system were different from those of many other tropical systems in the Atlantic.

Many tropical systems in the Atlantic Basin begin as tropical waves which move off the west coast of Africa. If the conditions are right, these waves eventually organize themselves into tropical storms or hurricanes, but Henri did not.

Going back in time, Henri can be dates back to the thunderstorms that hit the central plains on Monday August 9. These storms swept through the eastern United States before moving over the warm waters of the Atlantic where the disturbance finally organized into Henry.

This is sometimes called a “home brew” system because they have origins close to the United States before having an impact on the continent.

After being formed and taking the name of Henri, he continues on an unusual trajectory.

Henri rounded Bermuda, never made landfall in the islands, before returning to the United States

It traveled at inconsistent speeds throughout its life as a named storm, moving at a modest 7 mph south of Bermuda before tripling its speed to 21 mph before landing on August 22. After landing, Henri, in a weakened condition, slammed on the brakes, slowing to just 1 mph early Monday, August 23, as he whirled over southern New York.

The northeastern United States is not immune to tropical systems, but it is rare for a storm to strike directly like what was seen with Henry.

Henri made landfall in Westerly, Rhode Island, a few miles from the Connecticut border. This is the first time that a tropical system has made landfall in the country’s smallest state since August 19, 1991.

Almost 30 years ago, on Henri’s landing date, Hurricane Bob hit Block Island, then Newport, Rhode Island, as a Category 2 storm.

Bob was significantly stronger with winds above 100 mph, compared to Henri, which was a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph on landing.

As Henri made his final approach to the northeast, the storm began to lose its symmetry, with the majority of tropical showers concentrating on the western half of the storm.

As a result, areas such as New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and New York got drenched in torrential rains.

Concordia, New Jersey, measured more than 14 inches of rain between 10 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 21 and 10 a.m. EDT on Sunday, August 22. This is more than three times the average amount of rain that falls in the region throughout August.

A radar image shows Henri approaching landing on Sunday August 22, 2021, with the heaviest rain located over the western half of the storm. (AccuWeather)

Henri’s rain also made flooding problems worse in New York City. An episode of heavy rain not associated with Henri crossed the city on Saturday evening.

In just an hour, 1.94 inches of rain fell over Central Park, making it the wettest hour in city history. It also meant that the drainage systems were already strained by this rain before Henri arrived early Sunday.

And then Henri came in and unleashed another torrent of rain. Central Park was inundated with 8.19 inches of rain from Henri in addition to what fell on Saturday night. In Brooklyn, Henri’s rainfall totaled 9.85 inches, according to the National Meteorological Service (NWS). And at JFK International Airport, 5.06 inches of rain fell.

Although Henry was rated as a tropical storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale when it made landfall, the system was rated 2 on the scale. AccuWeather RealImpact ™ Scale for Hurricanes.

This scale takes into consideration more than wind speed, providing a more comprehensive assessment based on how a storm might impact lives and property.


Prior to Henry’s landing, AccuWeather founder and CEO Dr Joel N. Myers estimated that Henry’s total damage and economic loss would be between $ 8 billion and $ 12 billion, but likely in the range of $ 8 billion to $ 12 billion. the lower part of this range.

Myers’ estimate is based on analysis incorporating independent methods to assess all direct and indirect impacts of the storm and is based on a variety of unique sources, statistics and techniques that AccuWeather uses to estimate damage, and includes damage to homes, property and businesses as well as their contents and cars, loss of jobs and wages, damage to infrastructure, loss of ancillary businesses, travel disruptions, medical expenses and closures. The estimate also takes into account the costs of power outages to businesses and individuals, economic losses due to highway closures and evacuations, emergency management, and extraordinary government expenses for clean-up and repair operations. cleaning.

Super Storm Sandy is one of the most notorious storms in recent memory for residents of the Northeast. It crashed ashore in New Jersey on October 28, 2012 and left millions of people in the dark as it ravaged the region with strong winds and heavy rain.

Henry wasn’t as tall or as powerful as Sandy, but the two had a similarity that caused the storm surge to be higher than it otherwise would have been.

Superstorm Sandy (left) was significantly larger than Henri (right). (NOAA GOES images / satellites)

Super Storm Sandy and Tropical Storm Henri made landfall on the same day as the full moon.

When there is a full moon, high tides can be a little higher than normal, making the flooding along the coast worse than it would be if the moon were in a quarter phase.

However, Henri was on a completely different level from Sandy. On Sunday, the storm surge peaked at 2 to 3 feet above normal tide level along the southern New England coast. This was only a fraction of what was experienced during Sandy in 2012 with the tide reaching 14 feet high – the highest storm tide ever recorded in New York, according to Climate Central.

Sandy also had a much larger economic impact on the United States with damage totaling more than $ 60 billion, more than five times higher than AccuWeather predicts Henry’s economic toll will be.

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