Heavy Rains Pummel US East Coast, 5 Dead

Posted September 9th, 2011 at 1:02 am (UTC-5)
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Heavy rains continue to drench parts of the northeastern United States, forcing evacuation orders for more than 100,000 people and killing at least five others.

The National Weather Service warned Friday of flooding from Virginia up the east coast to New York and Connecticut. Forecasters are blaming the rain on the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, saying the storm's effects could last through Sunday.

Hours earlier, officials blamed the deaths of two people in northern Virginia and at least three people in Pennsylvania on the stormy weather.

On Thursday, state officials in Pennsylvania ordered 100,000 people to leave their homes and communities near the Susquehanna River before evening.

Rains have caused the river to swell and officials say it will likely crest at about 12.5 meters, about the same height as the levees designed to prevent communities along the river from flooding.

The mayor of the city of Wilkes-Barre has told residents they should be prepared to be away from their homes for 72 hours, and to take enough clothing, food and medicine with them.

Separately Friday, the National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Katia is expected to create large swells affecting most of the U.S. east coast and Bermuda, likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. It is moving northeast with maximum sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour. Forecasters said the Category One storm would weaken by Saturday as it moves up the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Maria is churning farther out in the tropical Atlantic and is moving west — but forecasters say it poses no threat to land.

In Mexico, authorities have issued a warning for part of their coastline following the formation of Tropical Storm Nate in the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters say Nate will travel east before turning north on Friday, by which time it could become a hurricane.

September is considered the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, which has now seen 13 named storms. The hurricane season began June 1 and ends November 30.