Here's everything to know about this weekend's weather that's tropical in name, but far from its titular home:
HUH, A HURRICANE IS HITTING NEW ENGLAND?
Maybe! Rare tropical weather is making its way up off the Atlantic coast of the U.S., destined for New York and New England — two regions that don't often play host to tropical storms.
WHO IS HENRI? WHO IS BOB?
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A stormy pair. Henri is the tropical storm that's expected to strengthen into a hurricane — and perhaps become New England's first in 30 years. Bob was its predecessor, responsible for the deaths of 17 and $1.5 billion in damages in August 1991. These storms have human names courtesy the World Meteorological Association, which draws up a list of 21 names for each Atlantic hurricane season.
WHICH AREAS IS HENRI SUPPOSED TO AFFECT?
Right now, it’s looking like New York’s Long Island and southern New England — particularly Connecticut. If it makes landfall in New York, that would be the first time the state’s sustained a direct hit during a hurricane season since 2012′s Superstorm Sandy — the effects of which are still plaguing New York.
SO WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS NEEDED FOR AN HENRI (OR BOB)?
There are two ingredients needed for a storm to track this far up north: a tropical system itself and steering currents. Most tropical systems in the northern hemisphere run out or recur before they can make their way north, according to the National Weather Service.
OK, SO THIS IS PRETTY RARE. IS HENRI'S PATH CONNECTED TO CLIMATE CHANGE?
No, perhaps surprisingly. It's just a tropical weather phenomenon, the National Weather Service says. We shouldn't necessarily expect to see more frequent New England tropical storms.
WHAT DO PEOPLE NEED TO DO TO PREPARE FOR HENRI?
This isn't New England or New York's first rodeo with weather writ large. After all, a nor'easter is just a hurricane with a Boston accent. It's not too different in the Long Island dialect either. So, the usual protocols apply: Get boats out of the water, gas up cars, stock the pantry and batten down the hatches. Be prepared for power outages, too.
WE'RE IN THE DOG DAYS OF AUGUST — ARE THERE STILL TOURISTS ON THE ATLANTIC COAST?
Oh, yes. School is back in session in parts of the east coast, but there are still thousands of tourists enjoying the beaches of Cape Cod, the Hamptons and elsewhere.
IS HENRI A FAST- OR SLOW-MOVING STORM?
Henri isn't winning any races. Its slow churn could be a good thing, increasing the chance it will falter quickly. But it could also mean a lot of concentrated rain.
WAIT, WAS HURRICANE BOB THE SAME AS ‘THE PERFECT STORM’?
Nope, though both storms were in 1991. The so-called “perfect storm” — also known as the Halloween Storm — hit New England about two months later. It started as a nor'easter, in which form it inflicted the most damage. A hurricane eventually formed at its center — but it purposely went unnamed, because meteorologists worried it would be distracting.
SAY IT HAD BEEN NAMED, WHAT WOULD IT HAVE BEEN KNOWN AS?
Yep! Atlantic hurricane names are recycled every six years, unless they're retired out of notoriety — we're never going to see another hurricane named Katrina, or even Bob, again. And the “H” name — Henri in 1991 —was next on the list when the storm struck.
SO THAT MOVIE ISN'T ABOUT BOB?
Correct. “The Perfect Storm" was a 2000 movie starring George Clooney and New England's own Mark Wahlberg, based on a book of the same name by Sebastian Junger. We're getting a little off-topic, here, though.
OK. YOU SAID HENRI IS EXPECTED TO BE THE FIRST HURRICANE TO HIT NEW ENGLAND IN 30 YEARS — BUT WHAT ABOUT IRENE?
Irene was indeed tropical and a hurricane, but by the time it ravaged Vermont, it was technically a tropical storm.