Storm Henri has strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane, and is bearing down on Long Island, New York, and southern New England.
It is expected to make landfall on Sunday, say forecasters.
The upgrade in status was released by the National Hurricane Center, which put out a warning of heavy rain, wind and flooding.
Henri was travelling further westwards than was originally expected, and looked on track to hit eastern Long Island. New York hasn’t had a direct hit from a major hurricane since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
On Saturday morning, the storm was producing sustained 70mph (113kph), winds. Meteorologists have predicted that the storm will become a hurricane before it makes landfall on Sunday.
Both Long Island and Connecticut have been placed under a hurricane warning ahead of the storm’s arrival. New York City and southern New York State are under a tropical storm warning.
The affected regions may begin to feel the force of the oncoming storm later on Saturday night.
In addition to the expected hurricane-force winds, the storm may push ocean water onto dry land, which the Hurricane Centre warns could cause “dangerous” coastal inundation. Accompanying torrential downfall could cause flooding, and power lines are likely to topple due to the gales.
Power officials are concerned that previous rain in the region has softened the ground, which will make it easier for high winds to uproot trees and power lines when the storm makes landfall.
Forecasters predict the storm could dump up to 10 inches of rain and cause storm surges of up to five feet.
Hurricane watches have been called from Rhode Island to Cape Cod and the outlying islands.
Storm surge warnings are in effect for a large swath of the north east, including New York City, New Jersey, Mastic Beach, Montauk Point, Oyster Bay, Greenwich, Chatham, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island.
The Associated Press reported that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker advised vacationers at Cape Cod to leave before the storm’s arrival.
Officials in New York City warned residents that people living in low-lying areas “will” experience flooding, and advised them to prepare tonight for floods and possible power outages. They also asked residents to tie down anything in their yards that can be blown around and hurt neighbors or neighbors’ property.
Early forecasts predicted the storm would make landfall in New England. However, the storm took a westward turn, and is now poised to strike close to New York City.
When the storm was initially predicted to hit New England, it was compared to 1991’s Hurricane Bob, which killed 17 people.