- Henri could make landfall as a hurricane Sunday between Long Island and Cape Cod.
- Storm surge, up to 5 feet in some areas, could be among the storm's biggest threats.
- In North Carolina, 5 people were still missing due to flooding from Tropical Storm Fred.
NEW YORK — Tropical Storm Henri, which was forecast to become a hurricane by Saturday, had the Northeast in its sights as the path of the storm has continually shifted closer to land.
A landfall along Long Island or southern New England Sunday morning or afternoon is now most likely, the National Hurricane Center said Friday.
Threatening to bring damaging winds, as much as 10 inches of rain and up to 5 feet of storm surge, Henri could be the first significant hurricane to make landfall in New England in years.
The storm sparked memories of Hurricane Bob, which made landfall 30 years ago on Cape Cod, knocking out power and running water for days. Bob was the last hurricane to hit Cape Cod and the Islands.
The impact of every storm is slightly different, and with Henri, storm surge could be a significant threat, said Da'Vel Johnson, a National Weather Service meteorologist in New York.
"Going into Sunday, the waves and the swell of the water will start to rise," he said.
Meanwhile, five people remained missing in western North Carolina on Friday afternoon after severe flooding from Tropical Storm Fred inundated the state earlier this week, down from around 20 people reported missing on Thursday. Gov. Roy Cooper assessed the damage Thursday, where some 200 water rescues took place along the still-swollen Pigeon River.
And in the Gulf, Grace regained hurricane strength Friday before it was expected to crash into central Mexico for its second landfall in the country.
Henri prompts reminders of Bob in Cape Cod; parts of New York, New England see hurricane warnings
Hurricane and storm surge warnings were issued Friday afternoon for portions of Long Island and southern New England, the National Hurricane Center said.
"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," the Hurricane Center said.
Tropical storm warnings and watches were also in effect further away from where the storm is expected to make landfall.
A combination of storm surge, damaging winds and heavy rain could bring serious damage to the Northeast from Henri.
Storm surge could reach 3 to 5 feet from Watch Hill, Rhode Island, to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts. The surge along Long Island and into Rhode Island could reach 2 to 4 feet, while the Jersey Shore could see 1 to 3 feet of surge, the National Hurricane Center said.
Winds from Henri may arrive as soon as late Saturday into Sunday. Winds were up to 70 mph as it was spinning about 720 miles south of Montauk Point, New York, as of 5 p.m. ET Friday.
Rainfall of 2 to 5 inches was expected in southern New England, with some isolated patches of up to 10 inches, possibly causing flash flooding.
"Given these amounts, especially with how primed we are from an extremely wet summer, flash flooding will be a significant threat as well as urban and small stream flooding," the National Weather Service in Boston said in an online forecast.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday urged people vacationing on the Cape to leave well before Henri hits, and those who planned to start vacations there to delay their plans.
“We don’t want people to be stuck in traffic on the Cape Cod bridges when the storm is in full force on Sunday,” he said.
When Bob roared ashore on Aug. 19, 1991, much of the Cape and Islands in Massachusetts were devastated for days.
"We shut the entire system down in response to Bob 30 years ago, but we wouldn't have to do that today," said William Hinkle, a spokesperson for the utility company Eversource.
Cape Cod is more prepared now than for Hurricane Bob.What if the storm is worse?
The boating public in Massachusetts was already getting ahead of the storm. "'When in doubt, haul it out' is my motto," said Barnstable Harbormaster Brian Taylor. Like other Cape and Islands harbormasters, Taylor sent emails out to those with slips and moorings to keep an eye on Henri and begin taking precautionary steps.
At the U.S. Navy’s submarine base in Groton, Connecticut, personnel on Friday were securing submarine moorings, installing flood gates in front of doors on some waterfront buildings, and doubling up lines on small boats, officials said.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service office in New York issued its first hurricane watches for part of its area in 10 years, when Hurricane Irene threatened in late August 2011. Sandy in 2012, though officially not a hurricane at landfall, also caused widespread devastation to the area.
"Everybody along the Long Island area and New York City needs to be watching," Johnson said.
4 dead, 5 still missing in North Carolina from Fred's flooding
Damaging floods from Tropical Storm Fred were still causing problems Friday in western North Carolina near Asheville, where at least four people were killed and five others are still missing days after the storm rolled through.
Cooper on Thursday visited the hardest-hit areas of the state. In some areas, floods washed houses away like unmoored boats and drowned residents caught in waters that rose at at lightning pace.
"We know that the search and rescue efforts are not stopping until we know where people are or we've been able to find somebody," Cooper said as rescue missions, with assistance from the Air National Guard, continued.
About 10 to 15 bridges were damaged or destroyed, officials said, creating more difficulties in reaching people.
Water levels reached the point of a 100-year flood, an event that has a 1% chance of happening each year.
There was hope to get a damaged water plant back online by the weekend, Cooper said.
He issued a state of emergency along with an executive order that eased rules for first responders and farmers needing to save existing crops.
Grace strikes Mexico a second time
Hurricane Grace crossed over Mexico's Gulf shore as a major Category 3 storm early Saturday, drenching small fishing towns and beach resorts as it made its second landfall in the country in two days.
The storm had lost power while crossing over the Yucatan Peninsula Thursday, swirling through Mexico's main tourist strip, but it rapidly drew in power from the relatively warm Gulf of Mexico as it moved toward the country's mainland.
The Hurricane Center said Grace had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph early Saturday when it made landfall about 30 miles south-southeast of Tuxpan. It was heading west at 10 mph.
Forecasters said Grace would quickly lose strength as it swirled inland over a mountain range carrying its heavy rains toward the heart of the country, including the Mexico City region. Forecasters said it could drop 6 to 12 inches of rain, with more in a few isolated areas — bringing the threat of flash floods, mudslide and urban flooding.
Contributing: Doug Fraser and Cynthia McCormick, Cape Cod Times; Joel Burgess, Asheville Citizen Times; The Associated Press