Hurricane Bob looms as New England braces for Hurricane Henri, first one in 30 years
The outer bands of Hurricane Henri, a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph max sustained winds, have reportedly started to reach the southern New England coast and Long Island. Hurricane warnings are in effect for Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Flash flood warnings have been ongoing as heavy rain has moved through, with around 4.5 inches of rain falling in Central Park and six inches falling in Brooklyn.
As per the National Hurricane Center, after landfall is made, Henri is expected to turn to the north at a slower forward speed as it moves over southern New England. As per the NHC, the center of the storm was located about 120 miles south of Providence, Rhode Island, and approximately 80 miles south-southeast of Montauk, New York.
As New Englanders scramble to prepare for what could be their first hurricane in three decades, it’s prudent to look back at Hurricane Bob, a devastating Category 2 storm that landed on August 19, 1991, and unleashed destruction.
As per the Associated Press, when Bob stormed ashore, it killed at least 17 people and left behind more than $1.5 billion worth of damage. Bob reportedly littered streets in coastal towns with boats blown away from their original spots. It also cut electricity and water to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses for days.
Bob reportedly formed in the central Bahamas on August 16 and quickly intensified, reaching hurricane status by the next evening. It strengthened over the next 48 hours as it picked up speed heading up the East Coast, reaching Category 3 intensity. The eye of Hurricane Bob passed over Block Island, Rhode Island as a Category 2 storm before making landfall over Newport, Rhode Island, continuing across southeast Massachusetts.
With sustained winds between 75 to 100 mph, Bob’s biggest victim was Buzzards Bay eastward to Cape Cod, where at least 61 houses were destroyed. Cove Road, in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts had 29 of 37 homes destroyed, while Angelica Point, Massachusetts lost 32 of 35 homes along the shore. Over 60 percent of the residents across southeast Rhode Island and southeast Massachusetts lost power.
Hurricane Henri, according to a report by Bloomberg, could cost a billion in destruction, including devastating losses. New York governor Andrew Cuomo has already activated 500 National Guard troops to help localities with storm response efforts in Long Island and the Hudson Valley region.
The predictions were made by Enki Researcher disaster modeler Chuck Watson, who made his estimation based on the reported winds of 80 to 85 miles per that Henri is approaching the coast of Rhode Island with. After its landfall at the shore, it's expected to ease onto southern New England as it weakens. The storm's widespread rain and gusting winds are expected to wreak massive havoc by uprooting trees, messing up power lines, as well as causing destructive floods roaring along the region.
“It is hard to get a strong tropical storm or minimal hurricane hit anywhere in the US and not get upwards to $1 billion in impacts,” Watson told Bloomberg. “And of course the Northeast is such a target-rich environment, all those trees down, power outages, shingles damaged, and trashed fences start to add up.” When the 2012 Superstorm Sandy hit New York and New Jersey among other places, it caused destruction worth nearly $78 billion. The maximum losses incurred will be among the residents of the places Henri visits, and Bloomberg predicts these losses will be "never accurately reported because people will simply clear damage themselves and pay for repairs that aren’t covered by insurance or fall below deductibles."