If Tropical Storm Henri gains strength, it could become the first hurricane to strike Massachusetts directly in almost exactly 30 years. Here's how to be prepared for that.
Hurricane watches are in effect on the Cape and Islands and much of New England's South Coast, per the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center. That designation will remain in effect as the storm barrels toward the region, expected to reach southern New England by Sunday.
But the impact on the Boston area may be diminishing, while Connecticut and Western Massachusetts could face a stronger blow. Friday's updates at 5 and 11 p.m. from the National Hurricane Center each shifted Henri’s track further to the west, putting it on an expected path over parts of Long Island and Connecticut, moving the strongest effects away from the Boston area, at least for now.
The last hurricane to hit Massachusetts -- named Bob -- made landfall on Aug. 19, 1991, almost exactly three decades ago to the day. And before Friday, it had been nearly 10 years since a Hurricane Watch had been issued for southern New England.
Henri could very well be the storm that everyone says “is long overdue."
What to do before a hurricane strikes
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency offers an entire web page full of hurricane safety tips. As far as preparedness goes, here's what they recommend:
- Be informed by receiving alerts, warnings, and public safety information before, during, and after emergencies. You can also download the free NBC10 Boston app for updates.
- Learn if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone.
- Find out whether your property is in a flood-prone or high-risk area via the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood maps.
- Create and commit to memory your family emergency plan.
- Assemble an emergency kit.
- Prepare for possible power outages.
- Take photos or videos of your personal property and store these records in a safe place.
- Prepare your home with temporary plywood covers to protect windows and sliding doors.
Make a plan
- Pick safe places in your home where you can go if there is an emergency.
- Pick two ways to get out in case you have to leave.
- Pick a place for your family to meet in case you are separated -- one in and one outside your neighborhood.
- Pick your family contacts – two people you and your family members can call in case you are separated. Pick one person in the same state and one in a different state. Write down your contacts' phone numbers and make sure everyone in your family has a copy of them.
- Pick a place where you can stay in case you have to evacuate your home for a few days.
- Make a plan for what you will do to keep your pets safe if there is an emergency.
- Know how to turn off the electricity, gas and water in your home in case you are asked to do it.
- Make sure everyone knows the plan.
- Take photos of possessions inside and outside your home in case you need them for insurance purposes.
Once a hurricane is underway, experts urge people to avoid driving and stay indoors. Flooding and damaging winds can make traveling dangerous. Nearly 90% of all hurricane-related deaths involve water, according to the National Weather Service.
If you must travel, experts warn not to walk or drive through flowing water. Six inches of swiftly moving water can knock you off of your feet and cars can be swept away in just two feet of moving water.
More on Henri
Tropical Storm Henri is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by Saturday