Hurricane Henri bears some frightening similarities to Superstorm Sandy — but there are also some marked differences between the two storms, from the winds to the amount of storm surge to the route it will take, experts say.
Henri is following a similar path up the U.S. coastline. But Sandy took a sharp left turn and made landfall in New Jersey, while Henri’s projected direction sends it to Long Island and then north to New England.
That’s significant, because the New Jersey landfall put the New York metro area in line for destruction from the Sandy’s clockwise-turning winds and massive storm surge.
The strongest part of Henri will be to the east of landfall in Suffolk County, meaning a smaller area will feel the impact and at least part of the storm may remain over the water east of Long Island.
“Henri is going to be like half a Sandy,” said coastal geologist Arum Terchunian in Westhampton Beach, where the storm is scheduled to make landfall Sunday between 11 am and 2 pm. “We’re going to see lower winds and storm surges, between three to five feet.”
And though both coincided with a nontropical storm system over the Appalachians, the effect will not cause a “perfect storm” in Henri’s case.
“Those two were feeding off of each other,” explained Randy Adkins, a senior meteorologist with Accuweather.
While in Sandy’s case the mountain storm helped supercharge it into a “superstorm,” in Henri’s case, the Appalachian storm is steering it away, “not actually contributing to the intensity,” he said.
Sandy was a Category 3 storm at its peak in the Caribbean — with steady winds up to 115 mph — but had weakened to a post-tropical cyclone by the time it reached the New York metro area.
Henri, however, was never as strong. It gained strength and picked up speed on its northward journey, becoming a Category 1 storm Saturday, with steady winds at 75 mph. It may weaken further and return to a tropical storm before it comes ashore on Long Island Sunday.
Like Henri, Sandy arrived during a full moon, which exacerbated the storm surge, or amount of water that got pulled ashore as the storm made landfall.
Storm surge is a great concern with Henri, but the high water is expected to be about 6 feet above normal.
“It’s going to be a far cry from Sandy, where you saw amounts that were easily double if not triple that,” Adkins said. The wall of water than engulfed shoreline communities in 2012 was largely responsible for the 49 deaths in New York and 10 in New Jersey that contributed to making Sandy the deadliest storm to hit the East Coast since since 1972.
Millions were left without power for days after Sandy, which hit on Oct. 29, when temperatures were dropping into the 50s. PSGE Long Island has warned that some residents may face a similar fate and have to wait a week or more for power to be restored if Henri causes significant damage.
Additional reporting by Isabel Vincent