Severe storms bring flooding across Northeast and leave at least 1 dead in Orange County, New York, as officials warn of dangerous road conditions

Severe storms that left at least one dead in Orange County, New York, are dumping heavy rainfall at intense rates over parts of the Northeast, forcing road closures, water rescues and urgent warnings about life-threatening flash floods.

Over 25 million people are under flood alerts across the Northeast on Monday, including parts of New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine – as well as across the country in Washington and Alaska. Flash flood emergencies and landslides are expected, with heavy rainfall continuing throughout the day.

Already, floods have inundated roadways in parts of New York, and Gov. Kathy Hochul has deployed state police and swift water rescue teams as the state braces for more road floods and washouts.

“We are approaching a critical point in this weather event, and New Yorkers must remain vigilant,” Hochul said Sunday night. “Remember: avoid flooded roads, monitor your local forecasts and have an evacuation plan ready if you’re in a danger zone.”

A once-in-a-millennium rainfall event is one that is so intense, the chances of it happening in any given year is just 0.1%.

Reading, Pennsylvania, received 5.35 inches of rain Sunday, shattering its old daily rainfall record of 3.47 inches, set in 1952.

Areas across New England could see 3 to 5 inches of rain Monday, which could bring rainfall totals for this storm up to 12 inches.

A moderate risk, level 3 of 4, of excessive rainfall is in place in New England through early Tuesday. Rainfall totals across the area are expected to range from 3 to 5 inches.

Intense rainfall rates are expected to continue in Vermont and northeastern New York on Monday, according to the National Weather Service. New York could see 1 to 2 inches of rain per hour, the NWS warned.

In Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott declared a state of emergency as the weather service warned flash flooding could become “extremely dangerous.”

Vermont faces a rare high risk of excessive rainfall, which could push isolated storm totals towards 12 inches when combined with the rainfall that already fell across the area over the weekend. “Significant to potentially catastrophic flash flooding is likely, especially in areas that have recently received heavy rainfall,” Vermont transportation officials tweeted.

“The threat is exacerbated by the fact that the ground is already saturated from recent rainfall events,” the National Weather Service said.

Several additional inches of rain falling over the area in a short period of time – over mostly saturated ground – could set the stage for significant flash and river flooding, as well as mud slides, the National Weather Service warned.

“Flash flood warnings mean travel is extremely dangerous. Please, don’t take any chances,” Hochul said. “Stay home, stay off the roads, and stay safe.”

Millions of New York City residents were under a flood watch Sunday through 6 a.m. Monday.

New York City’s Emergency Management Department cautioned residents living in basement apartments “to be prepared to move to higher ground.” Heavy rains continuing through Monday morning “may cause rapid flooding to basements with little to no notice and can be life threatening,” an alert from the agency sent Sunday afternoon reads.

When torrential rain from Hurricane Ida caused flooding in New York City in 2021, most of the homes where residents were found dead were illegally converted basement or cellar apartments, city officials said.

“Do not underestimate the power of fast-moving water,” Hochul said. “Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float your car, and water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge.”

Trapped drivers had to swim out of their cars

The town of Cornwall, also in Orange County, issued a “No travel Advisory” Sunday after storms flooded multiple roads, triggered mudslides and forced rescues from stranded cars.

“TRAVEL IS IMPOSSIBLE,” Cornwall emergency officials said on Twitter. “GET TO HIGHER GROUND. IF SAFE, STAY WHERE YOU ARE.”

Over 150 water related call including dozens of water rescues. Currently state fire, Monroe county water rescue, Ontario county water rescue and several other agencies are assisting.

— Canandaigua Fire (@IAFF2098) July 10, 2023

In nearby Rockland County, New York State Police reported “numerous motorists stranded” due to flooding in the area.

Firefighters in Canandaigua in Ontario County, New York, received over 150 water related calls and performed dozens of rescues, Canandaigua Fire officials tweeted Sunday, sharing a photo of people kayaking through water deluged streets.

Across state lines, eastern Pennsylvania also saw “significant” flash flooding Sunday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. The Fleetwood Police Department shared images of deluged roadways in Berks County and urged residents to avoid all travel, adding that crews were out responding to rescues and flooded basements Sunday.

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