5 Dead as storm hits New England

RALEIGH, N.C. – Torrential downpours from a faded tropical storm marched into the Northeast on Friday, a day after claiming five lives, washing out roads, knocking out power and dousing some East Coast cities with more rain in hours than they normally get in months.

Massachusetts was in line for a soaking as the storm began making its way across New England on Friday. The torrential downpours and high winds struck the Berkshires early in the morning and were expected to hit the Boston area by midday.

The weather also snarled air, road and train traffic in the New York City area Friday morning. Motorists and pedestrians there coped with sheets of rain, poor visibility, slick roads and strong wind gusts as they made their way to work. The Federal Aviation Administration reported flight delays at New York’s Kennedy and La Guardia airports.

The massive rainstorm drove up the Eastern Seaboard from the Carolinas to Maine on Thursday, the worst of it falling in North Carolina where Jacksonville took on 12 inches in six hours — nearly a quarter of its typical annual rainfall.

Four people, including two children, were killed when their sport utility vehicle skidded off a rain-slicked highway about 145 miles east of Raleigh and plunged into a water-filled ditch, North Carolina troopers said. A fifth victim likely drowned when his pickup veered off the road and into a river that was raging because of the rain.

Forecasters warned of the danger of flash floods as rain drove across the densely populated East Coast cities with buffeting winds on a drive to New England. The Friday morning rush hour could be a challenge.

In Walpole, N.H., Erin Bickford said the deluge was a welcome sight for her eight acres of vegetables. “We had almost no rain at all. Often, we could see it raining across the river, but it didn’t come here. It was just dust,” she said.

After a mostly dry summer around the Northeast, the fall storm provided inches of much-needed rain.

Forecasters said much of the rain would continue its advance across New England during the day, though it likely won’t be the deluge that hit North Carolina.

Meteorologist Tim Armstrong with the National Weather Service in Wilmington declared the 22.54 inches to be the rainiest five-day period there that he could find on record since 1871. It easily beat Hurricane Floyd’s 19.06 inches in 1999.

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