Alerta en EEUU: Nueva Inglaterra se prepara para la inminente llegada de Henri, la peor tormenta en 30 años

El temido Henri se acerca peligrosamente a la costa noreste de Estados Unidos.

Los residentes de la zona se preparan para la llegada de la tormenta tropical, convertida en huracán este sábado, según el aviso del Centro Nacional de Huracanes. Será el primero en 30 años en golpear Nueva Inglaterra.

Se prevé que el huracán, con vientos de 120 km/h y fuertes ráfagas, toque tierra en Long Island, Nueva York, o en partes del sur de Nueva Inglaterra este domingo.

En partes del estado de Nueva York se declaró el estado de emergencia.

El sábado por la noche, un concierto que tenía lugar en el Central Park de la ciudad de Nueva York se detuvo abruptamente “debido al clima severo que se acercaba”, dijo la policía.

Hubo que desalojar a cerca de 60.000 personas del primer concierto multitudinario que se organizaba en la ciudad tras las restricciones por la pandemia de coronavirus.

“Hay que tomarlo muy en serio”
Los huracanes son inusuales en esta parte de la costa de Estados Unidos.

Nueva Inglaterra fue azotada por última vez en 1991 por un fenómeno de este tipo, cuando el huracán Bob causó la muerte de 17 personas.

“Debemos tomarnos esta tormenta muy en serio; aunque no toque tierra como huracán, los vientos con fuerza tropical y la marejada ciclónica pueden causar daños significativos”, dijo a CNN la administradora de la Agencia Federal para el Manejo de Emergencias de EE.UU., Deanne Criswell.

Al menos 10 personas murieron y hay decenas de desaparecidos tras inundaciones en Tennessee

Hasta 43 centímetros de lluvia cayó en menos de 24 horas el sábado, rompiendo el récord de ese estado en un día en más de 8 centímetros

La página de Facebook de la oficina del alguacil del condado de Humphrey se llenó de personas en busca de familiares y amigos desaparecidos. Las páginas de GoFundMe se hicieron pidiendo ayuda para los gastos del funeral de los muertos, incluidos los gemelos de 7 meses que fueron arrancados de los brazos de su padre cuando intentaban escapar.

No muy lejos del puente, decenas de edificios en un área de viviendas para personas de bajos ingresos conocida como Brookside parecían haber sufrido la peor parte de la inundación repentina.

“Fue devastador: los edificios fueron derribados, la mitad de ellos fueron destruidos”, dijo un residente de la zona. “La gente sacaba los cuerpos de las personas que se habían ahogado y no lograban salir”.

Davis dijo a los medios de comunicación el sábado sobre las 10 muertes confirmadas y más de 30 personas desaparecidas en su condado, ubicado a unos 96 kilómetros al oeste de Nashville.

Los muertos iban desde bebés hasta ancianos e incluía a uno de sus mejores amigos, dijo el domingo el sheriff del condado de 18.000 personas a WSVM-TV.

“Pueblo pequeño, comunidad pequeña. Nos conocemos. Nos amamos“, dijo Davis.

Justo al este de Waverly, la ciudad de McEwen fue golpeada el sábado con 43.2 centímetros de lluvia, rompiendo el récord estatal de 24 horas de 34.5 centímetros de 1982, según el Servicio Meteorológico Nacional en Nashville.

Se emitió una alerta de inundación repentina para el área antes de que comenzara la lluvia, y los meteorólogos dijeron que era posible que llueva de 10 a 15 centímetros. La peor tormenta registrada en esta área del centro de Tennessee solo dejó caer 23 centímetros de lluvia, dijo Krissy Hurley, meteoróloga del servicio meteorológico en Nashville.

“Pronosticar casi un récord es algo que no hacemos muy a menudo”, dijo Hurley. “El doble de la cantidad que habíamos visto era casi insondable”.

Investigaciones científicas recientes han determinado que las lluvias extremas serán más frecuentes debido al cambio climático provocado por el hombre. Hurley dijo que es imposible saber su papel exacto en la inundación del sábado, pero señaló que el año pasado su oficina se ocupó de las inundaciones que solían esperarse tal vez una vez cada 100 años en septiembre al sur de Nashville y en marzo más cerca de la ciudad.

“Teníamos una cantidad increíble de agua en la atmósfera”, dijo Hurley sobre las inundaciones del sábado. “Las tormentas eléctricas se desarrollaron y se movieron por la misma área una y otra vez”.

El problema no se limita a Tennessee. Un estudio federal encontró que el cambio climático provocado por el hombre duplica las posibilidades de los tipos de aguaceros fuertes que en agosto de 2016 arrojaron 66 centímetros de lluvia alrededor de Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Esas inundaciones mataron al menos a 13 personas y dañaron 150.000 hogares.

(Con información de AP)

Moving Inland, Tropical Storm Henri Drenches Northeast

WESTERLY, R.I. — Tropical Storm Henri socked the Northeast with heavy wind and rain as it made landfall Sunday on the coast of Rhode Island, knocking out power to over 100,000 homes and causing deluges that closed bridges, swamped roads and left many people stranded in their vehicles.

The storm was downgraded from a hurricane before reaching New England, leaving many to breathe a sigh of relief in a region that has not taken a direct hit from a hurricane in decades. There were few early reports of major damage due to wind or surf.

But the storm’s heavy, sustained rains raised concerns about flooding from the storm that threatened to stall over the region before pivoting to the East and moving out to the Atlantic Ocean on Monday night. Some of the highest rain totals were expected inland.

By Sunday afternoon, Henri had sustained winds of about 50 mph as it moved inland across Connecticut, according to the National Hurricane Center. When it made landfall near Westerly, R.I., it had sustained winds of about 60 mph and gusts of up to 70 mph.

Several major bridges in Rhode Island, which stitch together much of the state, were briefly shuttered Sunday, and some coastal roads were nearly impassable.

Westerly resident Collette Chisholm, a 20-year resident, said the waves were much higher than normal, but said she wasn’t concerned about her home suffering extensive damage.

“I love storms,” she said. “I think they’re exciting, as long as no one gets hurt.”

In Newport, Paul and Cherie Saunders were riding out the storm in a home that her family has owned since the late 1950s. Their basement flooded with 5 feet of water during Superstorm Sandy nine years ago.

“This house has been through so many hurricanes and so many things have happened,” said Cherie Saunders, 68. “We’re just going to wait and see what happens.”

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.

Some communities in central New Jersey were inundated with as much as 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain by midday Sunday. In Jamesburg, television video footage showed flooded downtown streets and cars almost completely submerged.

In Newark, Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara said police and firefighters rescued 86 people in 11 incidents related to the storm. He said “significant flooding” led to multiple vehicles submerged in flooded areas.

In a region where the ground in many areas is saturated from recent rains, the forecast had some fearing the worst effects of the rainfall were still to come.

Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia and former president of the American Meteorological Society, said Henri was reminiscent in some ways of Hurricane Harvey, a slow-moving storm that decimated the Houston area in 2017, exacerbated when bands of rain set up east of the city, a phenomenon meteorologists call “training.”

“You’re seeing a little bit of that training in the New Jersey/New York area, even as the storm itself is a little to the east and the northeast,” Shepherd said. “To the west side of the storm, you have a banding feature that has literally been stationary — sitting there and dumping rain. That will be a significant hazard for the New York and New Jersey area.”

Some in New England cautioned against complacency, warning that Henri – if it does stall and dump multiple inches of rainfall – had the potential to inflict damage similar to Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.

After Irene roared up the coast, many in the Northeast were relieved when the New York City area largely was spared. But then the storm settled over the Green Mountains, and Irene became the biggest natural disaster to hit Vermont since an epic 1927 flood. Parts of the state got 11 inches of rain in just 24 hours. Irene killed six in Vermont, left thousands homeless, and damaged or destroyed more than 200 bridges and 500 miles of highway.

“I remember Irene and media outlets outside Vermont brushing it aside as if no big deal while it hit Vermont,” Robert Welch, a podcaster, tweeted Sunday. “I’ll relax when I see it at sea on radar.”

By Sunday afternoon, power outages affected over 78,000 customers in Rhode Island, 32,000 in Connecticut, 9,000 in Massachusetts and 4,000 in New York.

In Connecticut, four nursing homes on the shoreline were evacuated, according to Paul Mounds, chief of staff for Connecticut’s governor. About 250 residents were relocated to other nursing homes, he said. Storm-related flooding was blamed for major delays along Interstate 91 near Hartford.

In one of his final appearances as governor before he is set to step down at the end of Monday over a sexual harassment scandal, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that with the threat to Long Island diminishing, the state’s primary concern were inland areas like the Hudson River Valley, north of New York City, which was projected to get inches of rain over the next few days.

Rainfall in the Catskills “is a significant problem,” Cuomo said. “In the Hudson Valley you have hills, you have creeks, the water comes running down those hills and turns a creek into a ravaging river. I have seen small towns in these mountainous areas devastated by rain. That is still a very real possibility.”

President Joe Biden declared disasters in much of the region, opening the purse strings for federal recovery aid. The White House said Biden discussed preparations with northeastern governors and that New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who succeeds Cuomo on Tuesday, also participated.

Major airports in the region remained open as the storm approached, though hundreds of Sunday’s flights were canceled. 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.

Norbert Weissberg watched the waves from the edge of the parking lot at a beach in East Hampton as strong winds whipped an American flag flying from an unmanned lifeguard chair.

“I’m always excited about seeing something as ferocious as this,” said Weissberg. “It’s less ferocious than I thought. We’re all geared up for a major, major calamity, and it’s a little less than that.”
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Updated August 22, 20216:14 PM ET