Wild weather on both coasts Tuesday pelted parts of New York City with more than 3 inches of rain, high winds and threats of hail and tornadoes while California was digging rock and mudslides off roads after historic rains swept across much of the state.
In the East, tens of millions of people from Maine to Georgia faced alerts for flooding rain and gusty winds as a nor'easter roared along the coast. Rain totals of 4-8 inches were forecast for parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and southwestern Connecticut into Wednesday, AccuWeather said.
Wind gusts as high as 75 mph were forecast on Cape Cod, with sustained winds as high as 45 mph. The National Weather Service warned that waves off the Massachusetts coast could reach 19 feet. Close to 28,000 in Massachusetts experienced power outages Tuesday night, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
Both New York and New Jersey were under states of emergency.
"The northeastern coast will continue to experience severe weather," the Federal Emergency Management Agency tweeted Tuesday. "Beware of thunderstorms, hail, wind & isolated tornadoes."
In New Jersey, almost 4 inches of rain had fallen in New Providence Township, 25 miles west of New York City, before noon Tuesday. The weather service issued flood advisories across New York City. Manhattan and Brooklyn both had been swamped by 3 inches of rain, the National Weather Service reported. Staten Island had more than 3.5 inches.
The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway was among main traffic arteries disrupted by flooding during the morning commute. Custodial staff stayed overnight at 250 schools to make sure they withstood the storms, and the city's public schools were open Tuesday.
"New York City workers stepped up to prepare for this storm," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "They delivered sandbags to high-risk neighborhoods across Queens, cleaned catch basins, and monitored our schools."
Wind gusts of up to 60 mph could drive power outages, though minimal disruptions were reported Tuesday. Authorities were monitoring for flash flooding. Rushing waters from Hurricane Ida killed 11 people in basement apartments. last month.
"We learned a very painful lesson from Hurricane Ida. We experienced something we had never experienced before in terms of the sheer intensity of the rain," de Blasio said. "What we're hearing now sounds more like a typical storm. Let's pray that's true."
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy delayed the opening of state offices because of the wind and rain, calling the day “a wash out.” Rutgers University moved classes online for the day, and some colleges and schools canceled altogether.
New York and New Jersey had issued emergency declarations on Monday ahead of the storm, but there was little evidence of calamity as of late Tuesday afternoon.
In the waters off New York’s Long Island, the U.S. Coast Guard and local police searched Tuesday for a kayaker who did not return from a trip Monday night. He left a few hours before heavy rain started falling.
First nor'easter of season could undergo bombogenesis
The storm has been categorized as a nor'easter since it will be spreading northeasterly winds along the coast and is the first such storm of the season to impact the region, AccuWeather said. The system is expected to quickly strengthen as it moves along the Eastern Seaboard but will begin to lose forward speed and become stationary Tuesday night.
The storm was rapidly intensifying and could reach bombogenesis, when the central pressure of a storm drops by 0.71 of an inch of mercury or more over a 24-hour period – becoming a bomb cyclone. Two bomb cyclones were blamed for severe weather that rolled across California in recent days, triggering record rainfalls, mudslides and flooding.
Philadelphia under flood watches
Much of the Philadelphia metro area was under flash flood warnings as the nor’easter moved through the region. Severe thunderstorms, lightning and heavy downpours rocked the area Monday night into Tuesday, A flash flood watch was in effect until 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Some locations reported 3 inches of rain before sunrise, and the morning rush brought a slew of traffic accidents and tie-ups.
Midwest wasn't exempt
The National Weather Service confirmed that an EF-3 tornado thrashed the southeastern Missouri city of Fredericktown on Sunday as strong storms swept the region. A tornado with that rating is considered strong, and wind speeds range from 136 to 165 mph. The severe weather also drifted into Illinois, damaging buildings and knocking out power. No injuries were reported.
The weather service reported over 2.5 inches of rain fell in the Chicago area during storms the storms that started Sunday and continued into Monday.
California cleanup underway
The severe weather system that rolled across California for days weakened as it moved south but remained strong enough Monday night to cause mudslides that closed roads in the San Bernardino mountains above Los Angeles.
In the northern part of the state, record rains caused widespread flooding, mudslides and rock slides as soil in wildfire-ravaged areas washed away. Strong winds knocked down trees and even toppled two big rigs on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge near San Francisco.
At the storm's peak, Pacific Gas & Electric reported that 380,000 homes and businesses lost power, though fewer than 50,000 customers remained without power Tuesday.
Contributing: Celina Tebor, USA TOThe Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Flooding bombards New York, other states; bomb cyclone possible