30 years after last hurricane, New England braces for Henri

On the 30th anniversary of the last hurricane to make a direct hit on New England, the region warily braced Thursday for Tropical Storm Henri as it gathered strength and headed for the northeastern U.S.

Forecasters said Henri will likely strengthen into a hurricane in the Atlantic as it approaches southern New England early next week, with the first coastal impacts possible on Sunday.

Henri was expected to become a hurricane offshore late Friday along a path that will likely take it parallel to the East Coast. Its center was forecast to approach parts of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Cape Cod, and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard by Monday.

Exactly 30 years ago Thursday, Bob made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane in 1991 with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour and wind gusts up to 138 mph. At least 17 people were killed in the storm, the costliest in New England with more than $1.5 billion in property damage — nearly $3 billion in today’s dollars.

The National Weather Service warned of the potential for damaging winds and widespread coastal flooding from Henri. Authorities urged people to secure their boats, fuel up their vehicles, and stock up on canned goods in case the storm makes a direct hit.

Meteorologists said Henri’s track remained uncertain, with some models suggesting it might pass offshore and others putting it over Cape Cod or even Boston, possibly as a Category 1 hurricane.

New Englanders had to begin thinking about Henri even as the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred lashed the region, unleashing drenching rains that stranded drivers as floodwaters swamped their vehicles.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, the region’s second-largest city, a woman and her two young children had to be carried out of their stalled car by a Good Samaritan after waters rose to the vehicle’s windows.

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