The remnants of an unrelenting Hurricane Ida took aim at the northeastern U.S. on Wednesday as the potential for life-threatening and damaging flooding stretched into New England.
More than 50 million people in the Northeast alone were under a flash flood watch or warning, four days after Ida roared ashore in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane. The winds had vastly diminished, but the storm was dishing out heavy rain, much of it in areas already saturated by recent deluges.
“Many areas along the path of Ida are likely to have rounds of rain over a 12- to 18-hour period, but intense rainfall can last six to eight hours,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski warned.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for New York City until Thursday at 2 p.m. City emergency management officials warned that 5 to 6 inches of rain were expected with locally higher amounts of up to 8 inches possible. Wind gusts could reach 30 mph, authorities said.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tom Kines said the city is on the edge of a worrisome band of weather so severe that a tornado is “not out of the question.”
Accuweather was forecasting 4-8 inches of rain for parts of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York state and southern and central New England. Some areas could see 12 inches of rain, Accuweather said.
Virginia was bracing for heavy rains, flooding and possibly tornadoes Wednesday. Gov. Ralph Northam declaring a state of emergency. In Washington, D.C., all the city’s testing and vaccine sites were closed Wednesday in preparation for the storm.
Baltimore was handing out sandbags. Maryland emergency management officials were warning of winds gusting to 35 mph that could lead to downed trees, potentially causing power outages.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency in all 55 counties. The National Guard readied 60 members to be assigned where flooding is reported and promised that more guard members would be tapped if necessary.
“Our top priority is always the safety and survival of our fellow West Virginians,” said Lt. Col. Walter Hatfield, the guard’s director of operations. “We will do everything we can to meet any challenge Mother Nature might throw at us.”
In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a proclamation of disaster emergency in anticipation of widespread flooding.
“We are expecting significant rainfall across the state,” Wolf said. “I urge Pennsylvanians to … prepare for potential flooding.”
The National Weather Service in Boston warned of “torrential rain Wednesday night into Thursday… capable of flash flooding.” Up to six inches of rain were possible, the weather service said.
“This storm could bring heavy rain as far as southern Maine, southern New Hampshire before it finally goes out to sea” Thursday,” Kines said.