Even with Hurricane Joaquin no longer as big of a threat, the weekend promises little relief for the most waterlogged parts of the East Coast.
The National Weather Service says the risk of flooding will continue through Monday morning, especially in parts of North and South Carolina that already have gotten up to 11 inches of rain this week. Forecasters say some areas could see storm totals as high as 15 inches.
Once the rain ends, as early as Saturday in some places, the threat of flooding persists because the ground is too saturated to absorb water, meteorologists say. And high winds could bring down trees like the one that hit a vehicle near Fayetteville, North Carolina, killing a passenger.
The storm also has been linked to a drowning in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Flood watches and warnings also are in effect in Delaware and parts of New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia.
Meteorologists said the Carolinas will probably get the worst of it, including possible landslides in the mountains.
“It’s going to be a slow-motion disaster,” said meteorologist Ryan Maue of Weather Bell Analytics.
Hurricane Joaquin, no longer seen as a danger to the Atlantic Seaboard, continued Friday on a path expected to keep it well off the U.S. coast.
“It looks like we dodged a bullet this time,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said amid street flooding at the Jersey shore, devastated by Superstorm Sandy nearly three years ago. “Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”
Forecasters warned that even as Joaquin peels away from the coast, its effects will be felt, because it will continue supplying tropical moisture to the gusty rainstorm stretching from Georgia to New England.
South Carolina could get more rain in three days than it normally gets during the entire fall.
“We are growing increasingly concerned about the situation in South Carolina, western North Carolina and perhaps even in northeast Georgia,” said David Novak, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s Weather Prediction Center. “We’re pretty confident that some places are going to have 15 inches. A lot of places are going to have 5, 6, 7 inches of rain, particularly the whole state of South Carolina.”
Parts of Virginia and Maryland could get up to 5 inches.
The storm was blamed for the death of Sylvia Arteaga, 56, drowned in a flash flood under a railroad bridge in Spartanburg, South Carolina, while driving home from the night shift.
Ocean City, Maryland, had 5 feet of water in low-lying areas at high tide Friday afternoon. But by evening the floodwaters had largely receded, easing Geri Stoll‘s concern that successive high tides would bring significantly worse flooding.
“As long as we get rid of what occurred already, then when the new tide comes in, we might get a couple more inches into the yard, but it won’t be anything major for us in downtown Ocean City,” she said.
In Poquoson, Virginia, Joy Bryant canceled a yard sale because her property was half-submerged and cars couldn’t get down the road. Still, she was relieved Joaquin was moving away.
Steve Stougard of Norfolk, Virginia, called Joaquin’s course “an answered prayer.”
Joaquin tore off roofs, uprooted trees and unleashed heavy flooding in the Bahamas, and the U.S. Coast Guard searched for a missing 735-foot cargo ship with 33 people aboard.
Dishneau reported from Chincoteague, Virginia; Borenstein from Washington.
Associated Press writers Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina; Tom Foreman Jr. in Spartanburg, South Carolina; Wayne Parry in Sea Isle City, New Jersey; Alanna Durkin in Poquoson, Virginia; and Ben Nuckols in Washington contributed to this report.