BOSTON – Southern New England is bracing for drenching rain and gusts near 50 mph as Tropical Storm Hanna runs up the Eastern Seaboard.
Hanna came ashore Saturday morning in the Carolinas and forecasters at the National Weather Service expect it to hit New England by Sunday morning. They're predicting widespread showers and scattered thunderstorms, accompanied by wind gusts.
States were taking precautions, with Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell putting 200 National Guard soldiers and airmen on standby.
As of 11 p.m. EDT, Hanna had maximum sustained winds near 55 mph and was centered about 90 miles west-southwest of Long Island. The storm, blamed for disastrous flooding and more than 100 deaths in Haiti, was moving near 30 mph.
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.
Massachusetts 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 south east 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.
Forecasters said the massive system contained wind gusts as high as 60 mph, and could drop as much as 6 inches of rain before leaving the region late Saturday. As of 11 p.m., most areas had seen about 2 to 4 inches of rain, with the higher amounts in northern areas, but the precipitation had ended in most 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 New Jersey during the early evening, and the National Weather Service discontinued tropical storm warnings for most of the state late Saturday night. However, flood warnings and watches remained in effect for many northern areas.
Many arriving and departing airline flights were being delayed at area airports, including Newark Liberty International Airport, which had delays of nearly two hours on some flights.
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 winds of nearly 115 mph that was expected to strengthen as it approached Cuba and southern Florida by Monday.