Heavy Rain Spurs Flood Watches in U.S. as Flights Delayed

Heavy rain and air traffic delays spread across the U.S. East Coast from a storm that lashed the South and Midwest with tornadoes and flooding.

New York City, under a flood watch from 2 p.m. today until noon tomorrow, may receive as much as 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain, according to the National Weather Service. About 1.5 inches had fallen in Central Park as of 12:30 p.m., said Joey Picca, an agency meteorologist in Upton.

“For the rest of the day, there will be periods of moderate rain, even heavy at times,” Picca said. “When we get into the evening, that’s when we introduce more chances for heavy rainfall.”

Flood watches extend from western Massachusetts to South Carolina, the weather service said. A flash flood warning was issued for parts of eastern Maryland, including Baltimore, and northern Virginia, where as much as 3 inches of rain may fall.

A tornado watch, meaning conditions are ripe for the destructive storms, was posted for parts of eastern Virginia and North Carolina until 7 p.m.

Thunderstorms may also strike in the New York area, although they won’t be as severe as the ones possible farther south, Picca said.

Air Travel

The path of the storm front will cause air traffic delays and some cancellations in the eastern U.S., said Gary Best, a meteorologist with Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Across the U.S., 668 flights were scrubbed as of 3:54 p.m. New York time, with Philadelphia International Airport most affected, said FlightAware, a Houston-based airline tracking company.

As the storm moved across the U.S. this week, tornadoes killed at least 35 people from the Great Plains to the South, the Associated Press reported.

The system also caused heavy flooding across northern Florida from Panama City to Pensacola, Best said. A flash flood warning was in place for much of the area, where water poured into cars and houses, the weather service said.

“This is an extremely dangerous situation,” the weather service in Tallahassee said in a statement.

Almost 18 inches fell in Pensacola and 19 inches in Foley, Alabama, said the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

Flood Reports

More than 200 people were evacuated from the western edge of Florida’s Panhandle, Aaron Gallaher, a spokesman for the state Division of Emergency Management in Tallahassee, said by telephone today.

“This is pretty significant flooding for us,” he said. “We’ve had 22 inches of rain in some parts.”

Three drivers had to be rescued today from flood waters on Route 130 in Brooklawn, New Jersey, according to WPVI/Channel 6 in Philadelphia.

In New York, the rain should end tomorrow and then a period of milder weather will return to the region, Best said.

New York temperatures are forecast to reach into the 70s Fahrenheit (20s Celsius) tomorrow and into the high 60s later this week, the weather service said. In Washington and Philadelphia, readings may peak at 75 tomorrow, while Boston may reach 66.

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