A powerful storm bringing strong winds, heavy rain and flooding along a long strip of the East Coast on Sunday, creating the conditions for a possible “bomb cyclone” poised to wreak major damage ahead of the holiday season.
The National Weather Service said more than 32 million Americans are under a wind warning. Winds will reach 40 and 70 mph along the coast, with gusts of up to 85 mph possible, AccuWeather Meteorologist Bernie Rhino said. Winds of 74 mph or more are considered hurricane force winds – a bomb cyclone is essentially a winter cyclone.
“There is potential for damage along the Mid-Atlantic and New England coasts from this storm as it rapidly intensifies,” Rhino said. “The area of strong winds will push water from the Atlantic Ocean towards the shore, while at the same time heavy rain will fall.”
AccuWeather said the area from North Carolina to Maine will see up to 4 inches of rain, and some very localized areas could see up to 10 inches. Roads may be flooded, potentially disrupting traffic on Sunday night and into rush hour on Monday morning.
The storm moved from Florida and Georgia, and 35,000 homes and businesses in those states lost power early Sunday.
The National Weather Service said “dangerous marine conditions” could continue into early next week as winds and seas will slowly calm. But conditions are expected to improve in Florida from Sunday into Monday.
∎ Rivers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and most of New England could see flooding Monday and Tuesday as runoff advances, AccuWeather said.
∎ Some areas of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware could see 2 to 4 inches of rain before the heavy rains end Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.
The storm hits Florida and the Carolinas
Up to five inches of rain fell in parts of Florida, causing street flooding and canceling holiday celebrations. The National Weather Service has issued several flood warnings and warnings from the southwest Gulf Coast to Jacksonville.
Local authorities in Southwest Florida warned residents of coastal flooding throughout the region. “Today is not the day for swimming or boating!” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Residents of coastal islands and Fort Myers, still recovering more than 14 months after Hurricane Ian, reported rising waters near their homes.
“My house is completely surrounded by water,” Jane Plummer, vice chair of the Fort Myers Beach Planning Board, said on Facebook. “My dock is under water. (The street) is flooded by the Gulf of Mexico. (The water) is rising around the back of my house from the Gulf.”
Meanwhile, Charleston, South Carolina, received about 4 inches of rain, and the tide gauge in Charleston was more than 9 feet by midday Sunday. Many roads in the city were closed due to floods.
Authorities rescued dozens of motorists stranded in floodwaters in Georgetown, about 61 miles northeast of Charleston, according to Jackie Brush, public information officer for Georgetown County. She added that there were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths.
“It's not just the areas where we typically see flooding that are vulnerable to flooding,” Brosh told the Associated Press. “These are areas we don't really expect to have flooding issues.”
More than 28,000 residents were without power in the Carolinas on Sunday evening, according to PowerOutage.us..
Do you dream of a white Christmas? Not many will get one
Based on history, the chances of a white Christmas are less than 50-50 in more than half of US states, according to AccuWeather. This year, forecasters say only a few areas of the U.S. have a significant chance of snow on the ground — mostly the Rocky Mountains and some pockets in the interior Northeast. Some snow is also possible in part of the High Plains and north-central United States, as well as the upper Midwest and areas downwind of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, says Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather's long-term meteorologist. But he said the snow would not arrive in time in the northeast.
“There may be a period of rain and wet snow after the holiday,” Pastelok said.
Contributing: Phil Fernandez, Fort Myers News-Press; Associated Press