Weather & Natural Disasters

Record heat scorches West as heavy rainfall floods East 

John Bacon and Doyle Rice
People take cover from the rain in Midtown New York on as a sudden storm hit the area with flash food warning in the tri-state area. 
Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Heavy rains were slamming much of the Northeast for a fourth straight day Tuesday, swelling rivers and creeks, flooding roads and forcing emergency declarations.

The storms are far from over. And although a reprieve is forecast for the weekend, next week could bring more misery.

"A stubborn upper trough and wealth of tropical moisture will continue to impact the East with heavy rain and flash flooding through mid-week," the National Weather Service warned.

Paul Walker, a senior meteorologist for AccuWeather, said a smattering of daily and monthly record rainfall totals are likely as the storms roll through the region. He blamed a large high-pressure system for bringing tropical moisture up to North Carolina and Virginia all the way through New York state.

He said some areas, already sodden with days of rain, could see as much as five or six inches Tuesday, with another blast Wednesday. But Thursday could see the foul weather slide east, bringing relief for the weekend.

Parts of Pennsylvania were among the hardest hit areas. Some evacuations were reported near Harrisburg, the National Weather Service said. And the town of Tremont, 110 miles northeast of Philadelphia, saw rivers of water rushing through its streets late Monday. 

"I am asking all of the community to assist each other in this emergency natural disaster we are facing," Mayor Ricky Ney said. "Our local emergency crews, local police department, and streets crews are working as fast as they can. Please have respect for your neighbors and help out."

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Thirty-five miles to the south, tourist destinations Hersheypark and ZooAmerica were forced to close Monday "due to the excessive rainfall over the past three days and localized flooding." Hersheypark planned to reopen Tuesday, weather permitting; ZooAmerica remained closed.

The heavy rains Monday and Tuesday came following a weekend that saw record-setting rainfall trigger flash flooding in Virginia and Maryland, stranding vehicles and forcing water rescues and road closures. Saturday was one of the wettest July days ever recorded in Washington and Baltimore.

Walker said a weekend reprieve was forecast. Then, more rain.

"Unfortunately, looking long range, this pattern may reset itself next Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. More of same," Walker said. "Just what everybody wants to hear."

Elsewhere: Record heat

Phoenix officially broke its temperature record for the date Monday as the high reached 115 degrees at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the National Weather Service said. The previous record for July 23 was 114 degrees set in 2014.

The area could reach 117 degrees on Tuesday, which will be the warmest day of the week and potentially the hottest day of the year so far, National Weather Service meteorologist Larry Hopper said.

Southern California was locked in a pattern of triple digit weather, and the California Independent System Operator Corp. urged people to ease off the air conditioner and other appliances during the time of peak power usage from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

The heat also will set the stage for a heightened risk of wildfires in the Southwest, including Southern California, this week, AccuWeather warned.