Tropical Storm Henri Disrupts Shipping in the Northeastern U.S.

tropical storm henri
Sector New York personnel monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Henri, Aug. 20 (USCG)

Published Aug 22, 2021 5:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

Tropical Storm Henri briefly disrupted shipping in the northeastern United States, forcing mariners to take precautions at ports from New Jersey to Maine.

The captain of the port for the Port of New York and New Jersey, the largest port in the region, cautioned Saturday that the giant complex could close to merchant vessel traffic if the weather conditions became severe. The storm made landfall in Rhode Island on Sunday afternoon and slowed down, dumping a record-setting deluge of rain over New York City as it passed by. It quickly weakened to winds of 40 mph, just above the threshold for a tropical storm, and is expected to quickly weaken as it continues over New England. 

By Sunday evening, the captain of the port for New York had reset Port Condition Yankee, advising mariners to exercise caution but allowing them to navigate at will (subject to the advice of docking pilots). The Coast Guard and industry partners quickly conducted a waterway safety assessment south of the George Washington Bridge and Hunters Point, allowing pilotage to resume in the majority of the harbor. 

The captain of the port thanked the maritime community for its proactive approach to preparedness in advance of the storm.

“Experienced commercial mariners and maritime industry who we work with everyday are a critical part of our hurricane and severe weather plans.  I cannot emphasize enough how much I appreciate their proactive efforts to prepare for this storm.  Their partnership, along with our New York and New Jersey first responder colleagues truly create the fabric that makes this port special," said Capt. Marc Sennick, Alternate Captain of the Port for New York and New Jersey.

The Oasis of the Seas, one of the world's biggest cruise ship, was set to head out on a test cruise from Bayonne, New Jersey on Sunday. Royal Caribbean chief meteorologist James Van Fleet predicted that the storm would not be severe enough in the New York area to disrupt her schedule, and that she would not experience rough seas. As of 1700 hours local time on Sunday, the Oasis of the Seas was moored in Bayonne. 

In Connecticut and Rhode Island, where the storm made landfall, Sector Southeasern New England set port condition Zulu (closed) for the entire region - including Narragansett Bay, Mount Hope Bay, Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod Bay, Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound. In particular, the COTP instituted a safety zone for the Narragansett, Mount Hope, Buzzards Bay, and Cape Cod Bay, requiring prior Coast Guard authorization for transits. These closures remained in effect late Sunday.

Though the storm's high winds have eased, the National Hurricane Center predicts more heavy rainfall and isolated flash flooding as it slowly moves north across Massachusetts. It is expected to turn further east and head out to sea late Monday.