Hanna Rolls into Connecticut with Heavy Rain

A lone boatman heads into a protective cove in Bridgport, Conn. Saturday, Sept. 5, 2008 as sailboats are secured for Tropical Storm Hanna. (AP Photo/Douglas Healey)
By  | 

HARTFORD, Conn. - Tropical Storm Hanna rolled into Connecticut on Sunday, bringing heavy rain, wind gusts and oppressive humidity.

The storm, which came ashore in the Carolinas on Saturday, is expected to continue dousing New England through the morning.

A flash-flood warning was issued for Fairfield County and for people in low-lying areas and near flood-prone rivers statewide.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service's office in Taunton, Mass., said rain was falling at the rate of up to 1 inch per hour.

Final amounts could reach up to 6 inches by Sunday morning.

As of 5 a.m. EDT, Hanna had maximum sustained winds near 50 mph and was centered 60 miles north of Chatham, Mass. The storm, blamed for disastrous flooding and more than 100 deaths in Haiti, was moving northeast near 36 mph.

No major damage was reported in New York, but it took just a few hours for Hanna to drop a month's worth of rain in the metropolitan area.

The storm was responsible for flooding highways, delaying flights and halting the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Thousands of customers remain without power, mostly on Long Island.

At least three inches of rain fell over parts of New York City and nearly six inches was measured in the northern suburb of Rockland County. The metropolitan area generally gets three to four inches of rain in September.

The National Weather Service says wind gusts reached 40 mph.

Stretches of several highways in the city and its suburbs were closed because of flooding and fallen trees.

In Virginia, Gov. Tim Kaine said three traffic deaths have been linked to the storm. Kaine said the deaths involved two accidents in Chesterfield County caused by heavy rain.

In Connecticut, Gov. M. Jodi Rell was putting 200 National Guard soldiers and airmen on standby. A flash flood watch has been posted for much of Maine.

Forecasters say 2 to 4 inches are possible in Maine, with higher amounts nearer the coast. Most of the rain is expected to fall during a short period, which could cause flooding in urban areas and along streams.

In Rhode Island, residents were urged to protect their windows and have extra batteries available for flashlights.

Massachusetts officials are worried about flash flooding in urban areas, downed trees and power outages, but aren't expecting huge headaches. The state could receive between 2 and 6 inches of rain. But its rivers are not expected to flood because their levels are relatively low and the ground is particularly dry, all of which could help absorb most of the rainfall brought by Hanna, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesman Peter Judge said.

"On the other hand, the power issue is a concern with the strong winds associated with at least the east side of the eye of the storm as it comes through — which essentially will be lower southeast Massachusetts, that is the Cape and Islands," which are expected to bear most of the power outages, Judge said.

Hanna brought heavy rains and high winds to New Jersey, but no major weather-related problems were reported.

As of 11 p.m., most areas had seen about 2 to 4 inches of rain, with the higher amounts in northern areas. There were scattered power outages across the state.

The rain also left many roadways flooded, particularly in northern areas where some motorists became stranded when they tried to drive through high waters. A few drivers had to be rescued from their vehicles, but no major traffic problems were reported.

The brunt of the storm passed through the Garden State during the early evening. However, flood warnings and watches remained in effect for many northern areas.

Meteorologists plan to visit Allentown, Pa., to try to determine whether a tornado damaged a high school and surrounding areas.

Witnesses reported seeing a funnel cloud shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday, and strong winds ripped up part of the roof of Dieruff High School in the eastern part of the city. The winds also caused damage to the roofs of other homes in the area, toppled trees and damaged cars.

No injuries were immediately reported.

Hanna didn't linger long enough over the Southeast to cause much more than some isolated flooding and power outages in the Carolinas. However, there were growing concerns about Hurricane Ike — a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds that was expected to strengthen as it approached Cuba and southern Florida by Monday.