Cities up and down the East Coast are bracing for impacts from a powerful storm system expected to unleash torrential rains, punishing winds, and severe thunderstorms over the next two days.
The storm already battered Florida and South Carolina over the weekend. Now, its effects are spreading northward and are likely to persist through Monday across a large swath of the Eastern Seaboard from Georgia to Maine.
In South Carolina, Charleston broke daily rainfall records on Sunday, with the downtown area recording 3.86 inches which led to substantial street flooding and road closures. Videos from beach towns showed high water levels and intense winds shaking cars. Forecasters say more heavy rains are on the way.
Further north, the Washington DC region saw over an inch of rainfall in just three hours last night. A flash flood watch remains in effect there as the soil is already saturated. New York City and southern Maine are also prepping for deluges, gusty winds, and possible coastal inundation during high tides.
Federal meteorologists say the storm's severity stems from an extreme contrast between warm air over the Atlantic Ocean colliding with cold land-based air. This clash helps feed torrential rains into the counter-clockwise rotating system expected to intensify as it moves north.
Impacts Felt from Florida to the Carolinas
Before taking aim at the Northeast, the far-reaching storm first pounded Florida and the Carolinas with heavy rains and powerful winds over the weekend.
In Florida, severe thunderstorms delivered over half a foot of rain in under 12 hours to Tampa Bay communities on Saturday. The downpours caused substantial coastal flooding that swamped low-lying roads and neighbourhoods. At one point on Sunday, over 33,000 Florida residents lost electrical power, though crews worked swiftly to restore services.
In Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday, relentless rains set a new daily precipitation record, with almost 4 inches measured downtown. The deluge overwhelmed storm drains and drainage systems, leading to significant urban flooding and road closures. Videos taken along the coast showed waterlogged streets and intensifying winds strong enough to shake vehicles.
Forecasters say more rainfalls between 2 to 4 inches are likely across the Carolinas as the storm drags tropical moisture inland. Gusts may reach 40 to 60 mph in the most intense bands of precipitation. The heavy rains will heighten the risks of flash flooding, downed trees, and power outages.