Thunder, lightning and the threat of more severe weather interrupted a star-studded concert in New York City on Saturday night as Hurricane Henri raced toward the Northeast.
Crooner Barry Manilow was in the middle of his performance at the “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert” in Grand Central Park when fans were abruptly told to evacuate after lightning was seen nearby.
The New York Police Department also tweeted instructions for fans to seek shelter.
“Due to approaching severe weather, all those attending the event are to calmly move to the nearest exits and proceed to areas outside of the park,” police said in a tweet. “This is NOT an emergency.”
Meanwhile, in Suffolk County, residents and tourists were asked to voluntarily evacuate from Fire Island before the hurricane made landfall.
Henri strengthened to a hurricane Saturday as it continued to head toward Long Island and southern New England, weather forecasters said. The storm was about 255 miles south of Montauk Point, Long Island, on Saturday night after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had already declamared a state of emergency in preparation for the hurricane’s arrival.
He said at a news conference that water rescue teams were being prepared for Long Island, the Hudson Valley and Westchester.
He was also deploying 500 National Guard troops, and state police will have about 1,000 personnel on duty in areas affected by Henri. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority was scheduled to cancel service in Long Island beginning about midnight, the governor said.
He compared Henri to 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, the effects of which are still being felt in the New York City area.
“Superstorm Sandy, which we all remember, was also a Category 1 when it hit New York state,” Cuomo said. “So, just to put it in perspective how serious this is and how dangerous it is.”
Gov. Ned Lamont warned Connecticut residents they should prepare to “shelter in place” from Sunday afternoon through at least Monday morning as the state braced for the first possible direct hit from a hurricane in decades. In Rhode Island, Gov. Dan McKee similarly urged residents to stay home Sunday and into Monday morning.
“We consider this a serious matter,” McKee said at a news conference.
Officials said Logan International Airport in Boston was expected to remain open, but that some flights likely would be canceled. And service on some branches of New York City’s commuter rail system will be suspended Sunday.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker expressed relief Saturday that the latest models suggest Henri won’t make a direct hit on the state.
But Baker and McKee at separate briefings warned that high winds and heavy rains still could lead to widespread and lengthy power outages.
The National Hurricane Center warned of a “dangerous storm surge, hurricane conditions, and flooding rainfall” in portions of the Northeast beginning late Saturday night and into early Sunday.
The last major threat of a hurricane strike on New England was about 30 years ago. Hurricane Bob made landfall on parts of New England in 1991 and resulted in 17 deaths and $1.5 billion in damage. Long Island hasn’t had a direct hit from a hurricane since Gloria in 1985. That hurricane caused eight deaths and nearly $1 billion in damage.
Laura Curran, the executive for Nassau County, Long Island, urged residents to start preparing for possible power outages and flooding.
A storm surge warning was in effect from Flushing, New York, to Chatham, Massachusetts, including the south and north shores of Long Island, according to the National Hurricane Center. Some parts of Long Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts were under a hurricane warning or hurricane watch.
Alicia Victoria Lozano is a California-based reporter for NBC News focusing on climate change, wildfires and the changing politics of drug laws.
Minyvonne Burke is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.
The Associated Press