(CNN) – Hurricane Henri is moving toward the northeast coast and is expected to make landfall on Sunday, which could lead to destructive winds, dangerous storm surges and flooding in an already saturated area.
Henri, which strengthened from a tropical storm late Saturday morning over the Atlantic, could make landfall with or near hurricane force on New York’s Long Island or southern New England on Sunday, said the National Hurricane Center.
The strong wind and rain are likely to hit a wide area from New York City to New England, and since the area is saturated with recent rain, Henri could easily knock down trees and cause power outages for days.
“We need to take this storm very seriously. Even if it doesn’t make landfall like a hurricane, tropical force winds and storm surge can cause significant damage,” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell told CNN. , Saturday morning.
“We’re going to see power outages, we’re going to see downed trees, and even after the storm has passed, the threat of downed trees and branches is still there,” he said.
The center of Henri had sustained winds from 120 km / h Saturday morning. Hurricane conditions and heavy rains could begin in some of these areas Saturday night.
Millions of people under alerts
Hurricane warnings have been issued for nearly 6 million people in areas including parts of Long Island and from New Haven, Connecticut, to west of Westport, Massachusetts.
More than 36 million people are under tropical storm warnings, including parts of New Jersey and New York, plus New York City and much of southern New England.
A landfall hurricane in this region would be rare: Long Island has not had a direct hurricane since Gloria in 1985; New England last saw a hurricane that made landfall with Bob in 1991.
Storm surges are also a major concern: storm surges of between 0.9 and 1.5 meters are possible Sunday in areas including parts of Long Island to Chatham, Massachusetts, the hurricane center said.
People who live in an area under storm surge warnings “They must take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the possibility of other dangerous conditions,” he pointed the hurricane center on Saturday morning.
Parts of New England and southeastern New York could see widespread rainfall of 76 to 152 millimeters through Monday, with isolated totals near 254 millimeters possible, and could lead to flash flooding, urban and stream and river.
As Henri moves parallel to the east coast on Saturday, rip currents will also be a concern from North Carolina to Massachusetts.
More than 50 stream rescues were reported in the Wilmington coastal area of North Carolina alone on Friday, said the National Weather Service in that city.
Governor warns about travel plans
Officials from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island said National Guard members were activated or prepared before the storm to help with rescues, cleanup and other support.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker urged people to avoid unnecessary trips and delay weekend getaways to Cape Cod.
“For those who have already traveled to the Cape or the Islands over the weekend, they are advised to consider leaving on Saturday or extending their travel plans until early next week,” the governor’s office reported in a press release. .
The New York City Emergency Administration issued a travel advisory for the city. All of the city’s beaches will close on Sunday and Monday, according to city officials. Swimming or wading will not be allowed on those days.
Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee urged residents to prepare for the storm and announced that he signed an emergency declaration to unlock federal resources to support the response to the storm.
The governor urged residents to exercise caution along coastal areas due to currents and high surf.
“Rhode Island often suffers unnecessary tragedy during storms when wave watchers and fishermen who have climbed onto rocks near shore are hit by waves and quickly plunge into deep water and drown,” he said.
Beaches and state parks will be open Saturday, according to the governor, but will be closed Sunday and likely Monday, depending on storm damage and required cleanup.
CNN’s Brandon Miller, Haley Brink, Melissa Alonso, Judson Jones and Raja Razek contributed to this report.