Tropical Storm Henri has hit the US coast at Rhode Island packing high winds that knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes and bands of rain that led to flash flooding from New Jersey to Massachusetts.
The storm was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, but still had sustained winds of about 95kph and gusts of up to 112 kph, according to the National Hurricane Centre. There were few early reports of major damage due to wind or surf, but officials warned of the danger of spot flooding in inland areas over the next few days.
Millions on New York's Long Island and in southern New England braced for the possibility of flooding, toppled trees and extended power outages.
National Grid reported 74,000 customers without power in Rhode Island and EverSource is reporting nearly 20,000 customers out in Connecticut.
Rhode Island has been hit by hurricanes and tropical storms periodically - including Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Bob in 1991.
The city of Providence sustained so much flooding damage from a hurricane in 1938 and Hurricane Carol in 1954 that it built a hurricane barrier in the 1960s to protect its downtown from a storm surge coming up Narragansett Bay. That barrier - and newer gates built nearby - were closed Sunday.
While the wind was significant in certain areas, experts warned that the storm's biggest threat likely will come from storm surge and inland flooding, caused by what are expected to be heavy and sustained rains. Some of the highest rain totals were expected inland.
The first thunderstorms bringing what could be up to 15 centimetres of rain arrived late Saturday, and flash flooding began in some areas overnight. Bands of heavy rain overwhelmed storm drains and drivers ploughed through foot-deep water in a few spots in New York City, and Newark and Hoboken, New Jersey.
US President Joe Biden declared disasters in much of the region, opening the purse strings for federal recovery aid.
Major airports in the region remained open as the storm approached, though hundreds of Sunday's flights were cancelled. Service on some branches of New York City's commuter rail system was suspended through Sunday, as was Amtrak service between New York and Boston.
New York hasn't had a direct hit from a powerful cyclone since Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc in 2012. Some of the most important repairs from that storm have been completed, but many projects designed to protect against future storms remain unfinished.
Australian Associated Press
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