Downgraded Ophelia is still a threat
Rain, dangerous waves and flooding are expected to continue in the Northeast
Nearly a day after being downgraded from a tropical storm, Ophelia still threatened parts of the Northeast on Sunday with coastal flooding, life-threatening waves and heavy rain from Washington to New York City, the National Hurricane Center said.
Even though Ophelia was downgraded Saturday night, meteorologists warned that swells generated by the storm would affect the East Coast for the rest of the weekend, likely causing dangerous surf conditions and rip currents. Ophelia was also expected to drop 1 to 3 inches of additional rain over parts of the Mid-Atlantic and New England. Isolated river flooding was also possible.
Ophelia was south of Washington on Sunday morning and was expected to continue moving northeast before turning east and then weakening more over the next two days, according to the hurricane center.
The National Weather Service said numerous New Jersey communities reported coastal flooding, including Sea Isle City and Brielle. Thousands of people in the state remained without power Sunday. NJ.com reported that more than 6,000 customers were without electricity Sunday morning, down from a high of 13,000.
Flooding and road closures were also reported in coastal Delaware.
The storm came ashore Saturday near Emerald Isle, N.C., with near hurricane-strength winds of 70 mph, but the winds weakened as the system traveled north, the hurricane center said.
Videos from social media showed significant flooding in the state’s riverfront communities such as New Bern, Belhaven and Washington. A few thousand North Carolina homes and businesses remained without electricity Sunday morning, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utility reports.
Even before making landfall, Ophelia proved treacherous enough that five people, including three children, had to be rescued Friday night by the Coast Guard. They were aboard a 38-foot catamaran stuck in choppy water and strong winds while anchored off Cape Lookout, N.C.
On Saturday, Greenville police posted a video on Facebook of an officer rescuing a small pit bull from floodwaters. Police said the dog was tied to a fence and “just inches from drowning” when an officer responded after someone called authorities. Animal protection authorities opened an investigation.
Elsewhere, a rescue team helped the Beaufort County sheriff’s office evacuate 15 people from a campground between the Pamlico River and the Chocowinity Bay, according to Brian Haines, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management.
In other developments, high winds forced New York City officials to suspend ferry service to Rockaway. Other ferries were operating on schedule.
The governors of North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland each declared a state of emergency Friday.
Scientists say climate change could result in hurricanes expanding their reach into mid-latitude regions more often, making storms like this month’s Hurricane Lee more common.
One study simulated tropical cyclone tracks from pre-industrial times, modern times and a future with higher emissions. It found that hurricanes would track closer to the coasts, including around Boston, New York City and Virginia, and would be more likely to form along the Southeast coast.