Tropical Storm Elsa soaks NYC as it races up East Coast


By Michael Hill and Tom Hays - Associated Press



NEW YORK (AP) — Fast-moving Tropical Storm Elsa hit the New York City region with heavy rain and high winds Friday, toppling trees and hindering some rail service as it churned its way toward New England.

Maximum sustained winds from the storm peaked near 50 mph (85 kph) as it moved past New York City and across the eastern tip of Long Island, the National Hurricane Center said in an 11 a.m. update.

Storm conditions caused snags on commuter rail lines across the region, with slight delays on the Harlem Line north of the city and service suspended on the Long Island Rail Road’s Oyster Bay Branch because of fallen trees.

The downpour caused a small rock slide under the main railroad track in West Haven, Connecticut, forcing trains to switch to a secondary track for a couple of hours. The coastal city also was dealing with street flooding.

“We’re waiting on the water to recede,” said Joe Soto, the city’s emergency management director. “The drainage system was just overwhelmed.”

The storm came a day after a deluge flooded some streets and subway stations in New York City.

Despite videos showing flooding in some stations Thursday, “we actually weathered the storm quite well,” interim New York City Transit president Sarah Feinberg said in an email.

Up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain was possible in some areas Friday, enough to cause flash flooding. The hurricane center said a tornado or two was possible through early afternoon Friday over parts of Long Island and southeastern New England.

The strongest winds were expected to stay off the coast of New England. But the storm was expected to bring heavy rain – up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) on the Maine coast – before blowing into the Bay of Fundy and Canada late Friday.

Heavy rain had ended in New York City by mid-morning.

The system was already blamed for one death in Florida on Wednesday. And Elsa also previously caused a damaging tornado in Georgia.

A tropical storm warning Friday morning stretched along parts of the East Coast from New Jersey to Massachusetts. Forecasters said Elsa was moving northeast at 31 mph (50 kph).

Elsa is forecast to become a post-tropical cyclone by Friday night.

On Wednesday, nine people were injured in coastal Camden County, Georgia, when a tornado struck a campground for active-duty service members and military retirees. Eight of those hurt had to be taken to hospitals, Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base spokesperson Chris Tucker said.

The EF-2 tornado flipped over multiple RVs, throwing one of the overturned vehicles about 200 feet (61 meters) into a lake, the National Weather Service said in a preliminary report early Thursday after its employees surveyed the damage.

Authorities in Jacksonville, Florida, said one person was killed Wednesday when a tree fell and struck two cars. A spokesperson for the Naval Air Force Atlantic Office said Thursday that a sailor assigned to Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron 16 in Jacksonville was killed.

In South Carolina, a Coast Guard Air Station Savannah crew rescued a family that became stranded Wednesday on Otter Island after their boat drifted off the beach. The group was flown to a hospital in good health, a Coast Guard news release said.

The National Weather Service in Morehead City, North Carolina, tweeted that a tornado was spotted near Fairfield on Thursday afternoon.

Scattered power outages were being reported along Elsa’s path Friday morning, with about 24,000 homes and businesses without electricity from Delaware to Massachusetts, according to the website poweroutages.us.

Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record, said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.

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Hill reported from Albany, N.Y. Associated Press writers David Sharp in Portland, Maine; and Pat Eaton-Robb in Storrs, Connecticut; contributed to this report.

By Michael Hill and Tom Hays

Associated Press