Nov 12, 2009 12:30 PM by Associated Press
Relentless rain swept much of the Atlantic seaboard Thursday, triggering coastal flood warnings and watches from North Carolina to New York's Long Island, inundating streets and forcing some rescues of stranded drivers in hard-hit Virginia.
The downpour marks the track of the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida, which blew ashore in Alabama from the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday. Ida lost its tropical storm strength shortly after coming on land but has drenched a swath from Alabama through Georgia as it meandered toward the Atlantic.
Along southeast Virginia's coast, rising waters combined with high tides could reach levels not seen since Hurricane Isabel in 2003, the Weather Channel reported.
Gale, high wind and storm watches and warnings were in effect from North Carolina to New Jersey.
Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine declared a state of emergency and officials urged people in some areas to stay home as rain was predicted to continue at least through Friday.
While the entire state was drenched, coastal southeast Virginia seemed to be the focus of the most severe flooding Thursday, and a coastal flood warning was in effect through Friday evening.
The National Weather Service warned that parts of the area could expect up to 4 inches of rain by midmorning. The weather service said the greatest threat for severe flooding in the Hampton Roads area would likely come during high tide Thursday afternoon and Friday evening.
Virginia Department of Emergency Management spokesman Bob Spieldenner said his agency has received reports of a few Hampton Roads residents being rescued from their cars after getting stuck in high water.
"Each high tide is going to be worse, because the water's going to keep building," Spieldenner said.
The agency also is monitoring the potential for inland river flooding, depending on how much total rain will get dumped on the state. In western Virginia, Salem officials reported flooded streets and some people being pulled out of low-lying areas.
Dominion Power reported more than 22,000 outages in Virginia early Thursday, with the largest numbers in southeast Virginia and the Richmond area. In Norfolk, on the coast, several bridges and a major tunnel were closed and numerous streets were flooded.
Most Hampton Roads schools and universities canceled classes Thursday and some businesses closed for the day.
Flood warnings were posted across most of North Carolina from the mountains to the coast, with trees down and some roads closed.
Thousands of North Carolinians lost electrical service. Duke Energy reported more than 11,000 customers lost power in the Charlotte area, though much of the service had been restored by late Thursday morning.