At least nine Jamaicans are confirmed dead and 16 others are missing as heavy rains from Tropical Storm Nicole lashed the island nation. Power outages affected more than 170,000 customers across Jamaica, although electricity now has been restored to about half of them.
Now, Nicole's remnants and a giant low pressure trough over the U.S. eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine are bringing heavy rainfall and severe weather to coastal areas.
Isolated severe thunderstorms, hail gusty winds and tornadoes are forecast for the whole Mid-Atlantic coast today. Flood and Flash Flood Watches and Warnings are in effect from the Carolinas to New England.
A Carolina Beach man pumps water out of his flooded home. September 30, 2010. (Photo by Margie and Dan Pelczynski)
In North Carolina, Governor Bev Perdue has declared a state of emergency, and state officials warned that the flooding could continue for days.
The enormous storm system has dropped a record-breaking two feet of rain on some parts of the Carolina coast, flooding roads and causing rockfalls. The North Carolina Highway Patrol says three people died today when the vehicle they were riding in skidded off a wet road and into a flooded ditch.
The Cape Fear region of North Carolina had been going through one of the driest Septembers on record but Nicole and its remnants changed all that.
In the Wilmington area, pounding rains today topped rainfall records. By late Thursday, the Wilmington International Airport had recorded 22.5 inches of rain since Sunday, breaking the city's five-day rainfall records as well as a record set in 1999 by Hurricane Floyd.
In the town of Carolina Beach, streets, shops and homes are flooded and officials say the rain is not over yet.
The National Weather Service forecasts widespread rainfall totals of three to six inches across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast through Friday evening with six to 10 inches possible from southeast Pennsylvania south to the Chesapeake Bay.
"Flooding can bring devastating physical and financial damage to homeowners, businesses and communities," warned FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "With this storm continuing to move quickly, it's critical that people take simple steps now to prepare for heavy rains and floods."
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2010. All rights reserved.