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Andrea’s rain spawns flood watches on East Coast

No major damage from first named storm of season

  • AP
  • Published: 13:43 June 8, 2013
  • Gulf News

New York: Soaking rains that spawned numerous flood watches pushed some streams and creeks over their banks throughout the Northeast, yet the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season sped up the Eastern Seaboard without causing major damage.

After bringing rain, strong winds and even tornadoes to Florida, Andrea lost most of its tropical characteristics late on Friday into Saturday. The storm was packing winds that gusted between 32 to 48 kilometres per hour, and officials warned of winds near gale force from New Jersey to Canada through Sunday.

The storm was blamed for one traffic-related death in Virginia.

Late on Friday, the National Hurricane Centre in Miami discontinued all tropical storm warnings, but cautioned about possible coastal and localised flooding from New Jersey to New England. As of 3am on Saturday, the remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea were located near Cape May, New Jersey, headed northeast at about 56 kilometres per hour.

Dean Iovino, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, said on Saturday the storm was expected to pick up speed through the overnight hours, and could drop from three to five inches of rain in areas from New Jersey into New England before tapering off.

Officials in the Mid-Atlantic region and Northeast had prepared for the storm on Friday night. New York City activated its flash flooding plan, and heavy rainfall resulted in a number of flash floods, causing some sections of roadways to be closed throughout Long Island.

A number of roads were flooded in the Boston area. A flight that left Boston on Friday night headed to Palm Beach was diverted to Newark International Airport in New Jersey after being struck by lightning. There were no injuries.

The weather service reported that small streams and creeks in southeastern Pennsylvania were going over their banks on Friday night. New York City’s airports experienced flight delays, and Connecticut reported numerous lane closures on highway as cars spun out amid heavy rain.

The rainy weather washed out events such as NASCAR’s Sprint Cup qualifying in Pennsylvania’s Poconos, and MLB games in Washington, New York and Boston.

The heavy rain from the storm’s outer bands was being blamed by authorities in Virginia for a fatal accident on Interstate 77 in the state’s western mountains. William Petty, 57, of Lexington, South Carolina, died when a car in which he was a passenger hydroplaned while passing a tractor-trailer. He survived the crash, only to be killed moments later when the car was struck by second tractor-trailer, authorities said.

During Friday’s morning rush in Charleston, South Carolina, there was little evidence — beyond a few downed tree branches, gusty winds and some puddles in the street — that the centre of the storm was passing nearby. The sun occasionally peeked through.

Derrec Becker with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division said the storm brought only a severe thunderstorm on Friday. No injuries were reported, and there had been no reports of significant damage.

Mike Sprayberry of North Carolina Emergency Management told the Weather Channel that there had been some flash flooding and local road closures in the state but that “so far we have been quite fortunate.”

Thousands of power outages were also reported.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott had warned Thursday of the risk of tornadoes, and officials said that eight were confirmed across the state.

There were no major problems along the most vulnerable parts of the coast such as North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

David Tweedie, 41, of Ocracoke, said an early-morning burst of rain and the forecast of another three hours or so of rain and wind on the Outer Banks island has done little to alter the day’s routine for the roughly 1,000 year-round residents.

The Friday fish fry that kicks off the island’s annual folk music and arts festival was moved indoors to the island’s only public school, and a musical performance of the three-day event was shifted to the community centre. But the tropical system was otherwise forcing no changes to the Ocrafolk Festival that normally draws more than 2,000 visitors, Tweedie said.

Authorities in coastal Bertie County, North Carolina, said a school bus with 32 elementary students on board slid off the road and into a ditch about 8am. No injuries were reported.

A Coast Guard cutter and HC-130 Hercules airplane were called to rescue four adults aboard a 35-foot sailboat about 104.61 kilometres off Charleston, South Carolina. The sailboat’s engine was disabled during the storm and left rocking in 15-foot seas and 56.327 kilometres per hour winds.

Farther east in Chapel Hill, heavy rains forced the forced the postponement of Friday’s NCAA super regional baseball series opener between No. 1 seeded North Carolina and South Carolina until Saturday. A second game between North Carolina. State and Rice in Raleigh was also postponed.

While the storm departed Florida early on Friday, the Sunshine State was still feeling the effects into the day. The weather service estimated that feeder bands from Andrea’s remnants dropped more than nine inches of rain on eastern Miami-Dade County and more than six inches of rain on eastern Broward County on Friday.

In Cuba, days of torrential rains associated with Andrea caused rivers to jump their banks in the western province of Pinar del Rio. More than 3,300 people evacuated endangered homes, and nearly 14,000 hectares of croplands suffered “serious damage,” state-run newspaper Juventud Rebelde said on Friday. Rain was forecast to continue falling on already waterlogged areas through Saturday.

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