Update (5:30 p.m.): A hurricane warning has now been issued for the northeast portion of Suffolk County as Tropical Storm Henri takes aim at the twin forks.
The latest forecast track by the National Hurricane Center shows the storm passing directly over Shelter Island between the South and North forks.
The storm continues to strengthen and “is expected to become a hurricane tonight or Saturday and be at or near hurricane strength when it makes landfall in Long Island or southern New England,” a National Weather Service advisory says.
Winds are now projected to range from 40-60 mph with gusts up to 75 mph, with the chance to be equivalent to a Category 1 or 2 hurricane. The tropical storm winds are likely to begin early Sunday morning and last until early Monday morning, the latest advisory from the NWS said.
A hurricane warning means hurricane-force winds are expected in the area within the next 36 hours.
A storm surge also remains a threat with the potential for 2-4 feet above ground within surge prone areas, the NWS said. The NWS has also issued a storm surge warning, which means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline.
Peak rainfall has also projected to increase and now ranges from 3-6 inches.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Suffolk County. County Executive Steve Bellone said he anticipates it being upgraded to a Hurricane Warning as the storm dubbed Henri strengthens and gets closer to Long Island.
The storm, according to the National Weather Service, is tracking about 30 to 50 miles east of Montauk Point, closer to land than previously anticipated. The impacts would be mostly felt on Sunday, officials said.
“The storm is expected to hit our region and the Island on late Saturday night, but the primary impact’s on Sunday,” Mr. Bellone said in a media briefing in Commack Friday. “[Meteorologists] have said this is a difficult storm to predict.
“Since yesterday the track of the storm has shifted … we need to see if it continues to inch closer,” he said.
An 11 a.m. update from the National Weather Service said tropical wind storms of 40 to 50 mph with gusts as strong as 65 mph are currently forecast, but there’s the potential for much stronger hurricane force winds. Mr. Bellone said the county is preparing for winds between 75 and 90 mph and the potential for a significant number of power outages is “one of our major concerns.”
A briefing from the National Weather Service Thursday evening said the chance for more severe winds exists for the “twin forks of Long Island.”
It is also likely the region will see coastal flooding and a storm surge watch is in effect. A full moon means an astronomical high tide was already going to occur before the storm, Mr. Bellone noted. The NWS said flooding up to 4 feet above ground could occur in the most inundated areas and the county executive said that prediction could grow to as much as 5 feet.
As for timing, the rain and strong winds are likely to begin around 4 a.m. Sunday and strengthen in the afternoon hours, passing by Monday morning.
PSEG Long Island on Friday afternoon cautioned that outages could last up to seven to 10 days, “given the potential intensity of the storm.”
“The eastern end of Long Island is expected to experience the most severe weather and impact,” the update from PSEG said.
PSEG is working to add an additional 1,200 line workers, tree trimmers, surveyors and other utility personnel to work alongside its current staff.
This is a developing story. The Reporter will continue to track throughout the weekend. Check back for storm updates Sunday.