A potent storm system that spawned deadly tornadoes across Tennessee is tracking east, posing threats of flooding, damaging winds, and isolated tornadoes across a large portion of the Eastern Seaboard into Monday. As of Sunday, over 50 million people were under a flood watch from the Mid-Atlantic through New England, where heavy rains could cause flash flooding with up to 3 inches expected in some areas.
The same storm fueled tornadoes that claimed six lives across Tennessee and surrounding states Saturday. The threat of isolated tornadoes continues across parts of the Southeast on Sunday. A tornado was reported near Raleigh, North Carolina, on Sunday afternoon with no injuries.
Major cities from Washington, D.C., to Greenville, South Carolina, are at risk for severe impacts from heavy rain, gusty winds, and isolated tornadoes through Monday morning as the storm pushes off the East Coast. With saturated ground and snowpack across parts of the Northeast, the flooding risk has escalated across the region.
Northeast Faces Heightened Flood Threats with Heavy Rains
The expansive area of low pressure driving this storm is pulling deep tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, fuelling heavy rainfall across the Eastern Seaboard. Much of the Northeast is under a flood watch through Tuesday afternoon. With rivers and streams already running high and snow on the ground, the region is primed for excessive runoff, flash flooding, and river flooding.
Gusty winds up to 50 mph will down trees and power lines. New York City, Philadelphia, and surrounding areas should prepare for scattered power outages, and airports could see flight delays and cancellations. New York City Mayor Eric Adams has activated an emergency flash flood plan in anticipation of the heavy rain threat.
The flood risk is further elevated by the existing snowpack and saturated ground. The heavy rains will melt snow and overwhelm drainage systems, leading to rapid runoff. Northern areas will see a change to snow as colder air wraps into the system on Tuesday.
The last few months have primed the landscape for flooding issues. Record rainfall in September paralyzed New York City with flooding that swallowed roadways and submerged subway stations. This added insult of excessive rainfall raises the stakes for flash flooding, which can be deadly and destructive. Residents across the region are encouraged to avoid travel during the height of the storm.
State agencies across the Northeast have prepared emergency resources, including generators, heaters, and chainsaws to respond to storm impacts. Utility crews are also on standby to address expected power outages amid falling trees and power lines.