Tropical Weather Atlantic

Tropical Storm Henri was expected to intensify into a hurricane by Saturday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Impacts could be felt in New England states by Sunday, including on Cape Cod, which is teeming with tens of thousands of summer tourists. 

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Editor's Note: This story was updated at 7 p.m. on Aug. 20, 2012, to add new information from the National Weather Service.

BRATTLEBORO — It’s been nearly 10 years since Tropical Storm Irene swept across New England, devastating many parts of Vermont with up to 13 inches of rain in 24 hours in some locations.

With that memory fresh in mind, and with the ground saturated with rainfall over the past 30 days, people are keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Henri, gaining strength off the coast of the southeast United States.

“Quite frankly, we would like to see Henri stay out to sea,” said Steve Barrett, director of Brattleboro’s Department of Public Works, on Friday. “Just in case, DPW crews are busy today, stabilizing roadways and drainage infrastructure in anticipation of, and potential impacts from, the storm.”

The National Weather Service predicts Henri will strengthen to a hurricane as it travels north.

If Henri strikes Southeast New England as a hurricane this weekend, it will be the first direct hurricane landfall in New England since Bob in 1991.

Henri’s effects will be felt as early as Sunday, lasting through Monday, the weather service reports.

While its path is uncertain at this time, the National Weather Service issued an updated forecast at 5 p.m. on Friday, shifting landfall east from the tip of Long Island to the middle, crossing into Connecticut where the Connecticut River enters the Sound.

On Long Island and into Connecticut, rainfall could be up to 10 inches, according to the new forecast, with 6 to 10 inches up into western Massachusetts.

Hurricane conditions are predicted at landfall and into Rhode Island and portions of southeastern Massachusetts.

The forecast calls for between 4 to 6 inches of rain into southern Vermont and New Hampshire and then farther north.

The original forecast called for the brunt of the storm to hit south of Boston before moving along the coast of Maine, with between only 1 to 2 inches of rain for the Connecticut Valley.

Coastal surges are expected all along Long Island, Rhode Island, southern Massachusetts and Cape Cod.

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If Henri reaches Category 1 status, as the new forecast predicts, wind gusts could reach up to 75 mph at landfall, said Tom Kines, senior meteorologist for Accuweather.

“If, Henri tracks farther west, maybe moving across central Long Island and into central Connecticut, that could pose problems in terms of heavy, flooding rains and strong and gusty winds,” Kines told the Reformer before the updated forecast.

If the time the storm follows the new projected path and reaches the tri-state region, winds will be gusting at up to 40 or 50 mph.

Wherever the storm lands “They’re going to get a lot of nasty weather with a lot of damage."

The hurricane season usually starts in June and can stretch through November, he said.

“But once Henri passes through, there’s nothing on the immediate horizon,” said Kines. “We are keeping an eye on systems forming off the coast of Africa, but at the present time, we don’t see anything ramping up.”

Kines did note that September is peak hurricane season.

He said it’s too early to predict what this winter might bring, except, “I predict it will get colder.”

To sign up for weather alerts, visit vem.vermont.gov/vtalert.

To sign up for weather alerts in New Hampshire, visit readynh.gov.

To prepare for adverse weather conditions, the Vermont Emergency Management agency recommends you take several steps to protect you and your loved ones.

They include having an emergency kit with enough food, water and medicine for everyone in your household for a minimum of three days, and don’t forget the needs of your pets; have contact information, know your evacuation route or alternative location, and a plan of action for emergencies; monitor local radio or television for official emergency information and instructions; tie down or bring in any objects that could be blown around by winds; and in the event of gusty winds, stay away from windows and glass doors and secure and brace external doors.

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.