Drenched East Coast Faces Floods as South, West Battle Searing Heat Wave

Travelers flying into and out of the major East Coast airports should be prepared to face an uptick in weather-related delays.

While millions of residents along the East Coast faced another round of heavy rain Tuesday, Texas, Southern California and much of the Southwest are still battling a sweltering heat wave that forecasters say could bring some of this year's hottest weather.

Flash-flood watches and warnings have been issued for major cities from North Carolina to Pennsylvania through Wednesday. Travelers flying into and out of the major East Coast airports should be prepared to face an uptick in weather-related delays.

In the Washington, D.C. area, where record-setting rain soaked the region over the last few days, more showers Tuesday and Wednesday were threatening to cause more flooding or worsen it in areas still recovering from the weekend's deluge, according to NBC Washington

Overnight in Virginia, flooded roadways led to several water rescues, NBC Washington reported. One woman was killed Monday night when a tree fell on her home in Burke, a suburb southeast of Washington. Authorities said the 60-foot tree was possibly uprooted due to the soaked ground.

In Virginia's largest city, Virginia Beach, officials opened a shelter Tuesday for residents in the wake of flooding from excessive rain and wind-driven tides.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday that southern portions of Virginia Beach have been impacted by flooding. The city had already closed some roads. And residents say water had begun to enter some structures.

City Manager Dave Hansen said in a statement that residents can decide whether to shelter in place or move to the shelter at a local high school. The city is also sending help to anyone who can't travel due to high water.

Resident Bill Dixon said he saw a carp swimming in his front yard. The water was about an inch from entering his garage. But he said it's already entering some houses in his neighborhood.

Baltimore's Department of Public Works tweeted that high waters forced the evacuation of businesses in the Mount Washington area.

In Baltimore County, crews rescued two adults and one child from a school bus stuck in flood water Tuesday morning on Glencoe Road in Sparks, the Associated Press reported.

Parts of Pennsylvania were among the hardest hit by the days of torrential rainfall. Some evacuations were reported near Harrisburg Tuesday and the town of Tremont saw rivers of water rushing through its streets Monday, the NWS said. In Southern Chester County, flooded roads stranded dozens of people inside a tavern. A dive team used boats to rescue them, NBC Philadelphia reported

Hersheypark was forced to close Monday after three days of rain in the central and eastern part of the state caused Spring Creek, which runs through the amusement park, to swell. The park reopened Tuesday.

Meanwhile, scorching weather swept across the Southwest for a second day on Tuesday, setting record highs in California's Death Valley, Thermal and Palm Springs in a week that forecasters say could prove to be the region's hottest this year.

The National Weather Service said a new high of 127 degrees (52.7 Celsius) was set at California's Death Valley. Weather service forecaster Chris Outler in Las Vegas said the record broke the previous one of 126 (52 Celsius) registered for the day in 1916.

Phoenix was forecast to be among the hottest urban areas in the Southwest, with highs passing 100 by midmorning and hitting 113 (46 Celsius) by early afternoon — just slightly cooler than Monday's record-breaking 115-degree high. 

Maricopa County public health officials say 155 people died in the Phoenix area last year from heat-caused illnesses such as heat stroke and cautioned people to stay hydrated and take advantage of cooler indoor buildings.

Spokeswoman Jeanene Fowler said Tuesday there have been five confirmed heat-associated deaths in Maricopa County this year, with the cause of another 34 deaths still under investigation.

Forecasters issued excessive heat warnings to much of Arizona, including parts of Grand Canyon National Park, and extended into areas of Nevada and Southern California, where temperatures were expected to reach the triple digits again Wednesday, NBC Los Angeles reported.

With triple-digit temperatures expected throughout the region, the operator of California's electrical grid urged people to ease off blasting air conditioners or using washing machines or other appliances during the peak power usage times of 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health also urged people to stay out of the sun.

"When temperatures are high, even a few hours of exertion may cause severe dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke," said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county's interim health officer.

Officials closed two popular hiking trails in California's southernmost national forest Monday and said they will remain closed through Thursday due to the excessive heat. Much of the Three Sisters' Falls trail in Cleveland National Forest is in direct sunlight and can be extremely dangerous for hikers and animals during this time, NBC San Diego reported. The national forest extends across parts of San Diego, Riverside and Orange Counties.

More than 130 drought-stricken Texas counties have been issued burn bans as the lack of rainfall and triple-digit heat have increased the threat of wildfires.

Parts of Utah were also issued an excessive heat warning with temperatures this week expected to approach 109 degrees (43 Celsius). The weather service said the warning for Utah's Dixie and Lake Powell regions will be in effect Tuesday through Thursday.

The National Weather Service uses a complicated formula that varies from region to region to declare an excessive heat warning, including close to record-breaking temperatures.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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