Slow-moving storm Henri drenches north-eastern United States

Some communities in central New Jersey were inundated with as much as eight inches (20 centimetres) of rain by midday on Sunday

Tropical Storm Henri rocked the north-eastern US with strong winds and rain as it made landfall on the coast of Rhode Island on Sunday.

Henri sent lashing bands of rain westward, knocking out power to over 140,000 homes and causing deluges that closed bridges, swamped roads and left some people stranded in their vehicles.

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Fallen trees cause many power lines to break as strong winds tore weak branches apart and uprooted root systems from the ground during Tropical Storm Henri in New London, Connecticut (Joseph Preziosp/AFP/Getty)

At a glance: 5 key points

  • The storm was downgraded from a hurricane before reaching New England, leaving many to breathe a sigh of relief but the National Hurricane Centre warned the slow-moving storm would continue dumping heavy rains on wide swaths of the region well beyond the weekend
  • Over two days, heavy, sustained rains flooded areas as far southwest as New Jersey, even as it took on tropical depression status
  • The storm threatened to stall near the New York-Connecticut border overnight, before pivoting east and moving out toward the Atlantic Ocean on Monday
  • Some of the highest rain totals were expected inland. There were few early reports of major coastal damage due to wind or surf
  • President Joe Biden on Sunday promised to provide federal help to the residents of affected states. The president declared disasters in much of the region, opening the purse strings for federal recovery aid

What’s been said

"It came so quick - in the blink of an eye," said Helmetta’s mayor, Christopher Slavicek, whose parents were spending the night after fleeing their home.

"Now there’s clean up. So this is far from over."

Background

When it made landfall near Westerly, Rhode Island, Henri had sustained winds of about 60 mph and gusts of up to 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Centre.

By late Sunday, Henri had sustained winds of about 30 mph (48 kph) as it moved across Connecticut toward the New York state line.

Some of the worst rain arrived well before the storm’s centre. In Helmetta, New Jersey, some 200 residents fled for higher ground, taking refuge in hotels or with friends and family, as flood waters inundated their homes.

The National Weather Service recorded what could be the wettest hour ever in Central Park, with 1.94 inches of torrential rainfall pelting the park between 10pm and 11pm on Saturday.