Monday was another rough day for weather across the nation, as the Northeast saw yet more heavy, flooding rain, and tens of millions of Americans dealt with sweltering, dangerous heat.
Vermont was in the crosshairs of extreme rainfall and flooding concerns. Rescue teams raced to try to get to towns that had been unreachable since torrents of rain belted the state overnight Sunday into Monday.
There have been no reports of injuries or deaths related to the flooding in Vermont, according to state emergency officials. By Monday night, state water rescue teams performed more than 50 rescues in multiple communities as flood waters inundated roadways and homes.
Driving rain continued to pound much of the Northeast Monday. “Rainfall rates could reach 2 inches per hour in some locations as the system slowly moves,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Adam Douty said. “Infrastructure in the metro areas may not be able to handle rainfall of this magnitude, and as a result, rising water could quickly inundate some locations.”
The slow-moving storm moved northward Monday after hitting parts of New York and Connecticut on Sunday.
Deadly floodwaters swept across parts of the Northeast Sunday, where a woman was killed by flooding in New York state. Parts of Pennsylvania were swamped by up to 8 inches of rain. And forecasters warned that residents from North Carolina to New Hampshire could expect heavy rains and potential flooding Monday, with flash flood warnings in parts of New York, Vermont, and Connecticut.
Meanwhile, following a week of world-record-breaking heat, residents in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida endured oppressive heat Monday. In all, more than 42 million Americans faced heat warnings, watches or advisories.
‘Catastrophic,’ ‘life-threatening’ flooding possible in Vermont
According to the National Weather Service, over 10 million Americans were under flood watches or warnings as of Monday afternoon. As a frontal system nearing the northern mid-Atlantic coastline combines with atmospheric moisture, forecasters said heavy rain was likely to produce the potential for significant flash flooding in the Northeast and New England throughout the day on Monday.
A state of emergency was declared, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was alerted and the National Guard put on notice.
Residents from New England to the mid-Atlantic states were advised to avoid driving on any flooded roads, as the majority of flash-flood deaths occur in vehicles. State emergency teams conducted rescue operations throughout the day and more than 50 rescues were done by Monday night.
In addition to rescues, teams planned to carry out welfare and safety checks to assess and address the needs of residents.
The highest risk of flooding Monday was expected to be in Vermont and the Champlain Valley bordering New York state. The weather service is warning residents of Vermont of “catastrophic flooding” on Monday, adding that “a potentially life-threatening scenario is developing across the region.”
Meteorologists noted the graveness of potential impacts and the weather service urged residents to watch water level updates for nearby rivers. Officials compared the situation to Hurricane Irene as the state only recently recovered from infrastructure and financial impacts from the tropical storm that also took seven lives in 2011.
“What’s different for me is Irene lasted about 24 hours,” Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said during a Monday morning news conference. “This is going on and we’re getting this much rain − if not more − and it’s going on for days. That’s my concern. And it’s not just the initial damage, but it’s the second wave and the third wave.”
The Winooski River’s water levels were rapidly rising Monday night, putting Vermont’s capital, Montpelier, at risk. The weather service in Burlington called it a “very serious situation” as water levels were nearly reaching Hurricane Irene levels.
The front is expected to pass by Tuesday when the heaviest of the rain will end.
Woman dead in Hudson Valley, New York
A woman in her 30s was swept away and drowned while trying to evacuate her home in New York’s Hudson Valley on Sunday. Flash flooding dislodged boulders, which rammed into the woman’s house and damaged part of its wall, Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus said.
Neuhaus said he believed the victim’s house floated away. Two other people escaped the home in Highlands, about 40 miles north of New York City. According to officials, the victim’s family was safe.
“Her house was completely surrounded by water,” he said. “She was trying to get through (the flooding) with her dog,” he added, “and she was overwhelmed by tidal-wave-type waves.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a state of emergency Sunday for Orange County. That included the town of Cornwall, near the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, where many roads were flooded and closed off.
Multiple vehicles were trapped and submerged in floodwaters in Orange County. The rising waters made several roadways impassable. State police said numerous roads were closed and some bridges had also collapsed.
Scorching heat across southern US
While the Northeast endured flooding rain, parts of Texas, Florida, and the Southwest didn’t see relief Monday from sweltering temperatures, with many areas under heat warnings and heat advisories. High temperatures in the Southwest and High Plains were forecast to reach up to and above 110 degrees in the afternoon.
The weather service in Las Vegas said Monday that “once it sets in, the excessive heat looks to last through at least next Monday.” The high-temperature forecast for notorious hot spot Death Valley, California, on Sunday is near 126 degrees, the weather service said.
Similarly, high temperatures and oppressive humidity allowed for heat indices to approach 115 degrees throughout parts of South Texas on Monday.
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Contributing: April Barton, Burlington Free Press; The Associated Press