Heavy Rain, Wind Delay Flights on U.S. East Coast

High wind and heavy rain swept across the U.S. East Coast, tying up air traffic in New York, prompting Washington to hand out sandbags and knocking out power in North Carolina and Virginia. More rain is expected in New York late today.

Delays of almost two hours were reported at LaGuardia Airport in New York, almost an hour in Newark, New Jersey, and four hours at John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Water is covering part of the 11th Street bridge ramp in Washington. The city has also made sandbags available at New Jersey Avenue and K Street Southeast for residents who need them, according to city statements.

“This is a major flooding event and we are expecting more rain to come tonight,” said Heather Sheffield, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sterling, Virginia, which covers Washington and Baltimore. “And half our area is still under a tornado watch.”

The watch area covers portions of Delaware, northeast Maryland and southeast Pennsylvania.

High winds, possibly a tornado, knocked down trees in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, between Washington and Baltimore. Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland recorded 8.9 inches (22.6 centimeters) of rain. Flood watches and high-wind warnings cover the East Coast from Maine to South Carolina.

Sheffield said it would take at least a day to determine whether the tree damage in Maryland was caused by a tornado.

Rail Blocked in Baltimore

Baltimore’s light rail north of the Cold Spring station has been blocked by downed trees and buses are shuttling customers, according to the Maryland Transit Administration’s website.

David McNeill, spokesman for Progress Energy Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina, said 13,000 Progress customers in the Carolinas were without power because of the heavy rains. The company restored power for 32,000 customers.

Power-generating plants have not been affected, McNeill said. Progress has more than 1.4 million customers in the Carolinas.

As of 3:25 p.m., 16,762 customers in Virginia and North Carolina were without power, according to Dominion Resources Inc.’s website.

Airport Delays

In addition to slowdowns in New York and Newark, airports in Boston and Philadelphia were also reporting delays, according to the FAA website.

Southwest Airlines Co. suspended flights out of LaGuardia and Long Island, according to a company statement.

“Anybody from eastern Virginia on up to New England is fair game for at least a few inches of rain,” said Tom Kines, senior expert meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “Any of these heavier rain bands that come through can contain gusty winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour.”

Another round of heavy rain expected to arrive in New York late today is forecast to leave more than 4 inches on Manhattan before it leaves tomorrow, said John Murray, a Weather Service meteorologist in Upton, New York.

“We’re expecting quite a bit more rain with this next area of low pressure and it should be quite a bit stronger,” Murray said. “As it approaches, expect winds to increase quite a bit.”

Murray said wind gusts of 60 mph are possible throughout the night. A flood watch is in effect until late tomorrow, according to the weather service. A high-wind warning expires early tomorrow.

Rivers Rising

The James River in Richmond is forecast to rise by 8.75 feet in the next two days, according to the Weather Service. The Delaware River at Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, is expected to rise by more than 17 feet.

The Potomac River near Washington was expected to rise by 6 feet and the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia is forecast to crest at 15.2 feet, 8.8 feet higher than its current level, according to the Weather Service.

Kines said the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole are also lingering off the East Coast. If that system tracks inland, it would add even more rain and wind gusts.

“That is another piece of energy and we will have to wait and see,” Kines said.

On Jamaica, where Nicole struck yesterday before dissipating off the Florida coast, at least five people are dead and nine are missing, according to Richard Thompson, deputy director general for Jamaica’s Office of Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Management.

Thompson said 78 communities have been damaged by flooding and high winds. Officials haven’t been able to put a price on the damage yet, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at bsullivan10@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

Bloomberg reserves the right to edit or remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.