NEW YORK—Heavy rains soaked the densely populated U.S. Northeast on Tuesday in the first of two storms expected before Halloween weekend, flooding roadways, triggering traffic accidents, and threatening dangerous winds and storm surges.
Drenching overnight rains from Washington to New York City remained strong throughout the morning, and commuters in New Jersey reported vehicle crashes on roadways resembling rivers, weather watchers said.
Heading northeast toward eastern Massachusetts, the storm was expected to blast the coast overnight with 60-mile-per-hour winds and 3-foot storm surges, said meteorologist Bob Oravec of the Weather Prediction Center at the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland.
“It’s rapidly deepening—it’s going to be pretty windy overnight as it heads toward Cape Cod,” Oravec said.
At the outset of Tuesday’s morning rush hour, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority said commuter rail and subway services were running normally with only scattered delays. In New Jersey, bus and rail services were mostly running normally with weather-related delays reported on only one train line.
The wet, windy weather is the first in a double-barreled series of storms targeting the Northeast, Oravec said. The first was expected to last through Thursday, dumping up to 3 inches of rain. The second was expected to arrive Friday and remain through Saturday, pouring on 2 more inches of rain, he said.
“If we add up both storms over the next couple of days, we could have totals easily of 3–4 inches,” Oravec said.
“The worst rains will be over by Halloween (Sunday) morning. It might be OK for trick-or-treating,” he said.
Even before the first raindrops hit the ground, New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a disaster emergency Monday evening for parts of the state that included the New York City area and Albany region. The declaration empowers the government to implement policies it would not normally be permitted to impose, for the safety and protection of citizens.
New York state was stunned early last month when rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida fell with record intensity, flooding streets and subways, and killing at least 17 people, mostly in New York City where victims drowned in basement apartments. In all, the storm killed at least 50 people, including 27 in New Jersey.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also declared a state of emergency hours ahead of the rain that took effect at 8 p.m. ET on Monday.
By Barbara Goldberg and Peter Szekely