Ophelia’s Deluge: Unprecedented Heavy Rainfall Batters Northeast

Post-tropical cyclone Ophelia may have been downgraded, but it’s far from done wreaking havoc. The Northeastern United States, from Washington, D.C., to New York, finds itself at risk of flash flooding as Ophelia continues its journey along the Mid-Atlantic coast.

In its final advisory at 5 a.m. ET on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center issued a warning that some areas in the Mid-Atlantic to southern New England could experience between 1 and 3 inches of rainfall. Furthermore, the swells generated by Ophelia are expected to persist, producing life-threatening surf and rip current conditions along the East Coast.

While Ophelia weakens, a new player is emerging in the Atlantic. Tropical Storm Philippe is forming, located 1,225 miles from the Cabo Verde Islands, moving west-northwest with maximum winds of 50 mph, though no watches or warnings have been issued at this time.

Ophelia’s Impact


Ophelia’s transformation from a tropical depression to a post-tropical cyclone occurred on Saturday night, leading to the discontinuation of all storm surge and tropical storm warnings.

Coastal flooding remains a significant threat in portions of the Chesapeake Bay region, while heavy rain from Ophelia continues to pose a risk of flash flooding from Virginia to New Jersey. This concerning trend in floods can be attributed to more extreme precipitation and rising sea levels driven by climate change.

Widespread Power Outages

The aftermath of Ophelia is evident in the form of widespread power outages. Nearly 8,000 customers in Maryland and 4,700 customers in Pennsylvania were without power on Sunday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.US, a platform tracking outages across the country.

In anticipation of the storm, the governors of Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia had already declared a state of emergency on Friday.

Rainfall Records Shattered


Ophelia made a dramatic landfall near Emerald Isle, N.C. at approximately 6:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, boasting maximum winds of 70 mph. As the storm progressed through central North Carolina, strong winds with gusts of 35 to 45 mph led to downed trees and additional power outages.

In a surprising turn of events, Raleigh saw over 3 inches of rain on Saturday, breaking a daily rainfall record that had stood since 1906 by more than an inch, as confirmed by the National Weather Service. The town of Fuquay-Varina, located south of Raleigh, faced even greater inundation, receiving nearly 5 inches of rainfall.

Over the weekend, parts of central and southern Virginia also accumulated significant rainfall, ranging between 3 and 5 inches.

Coastal Flood Advisory

Ophelia targets Northeast after coastal flooding reported in mid-Atlantic

A coastal flood advisory was issued for the Delaware beaches until 9 p.m. ET. The National Weather Service anticipates over a foot of rising water near shorelines and tidal waterways.

As Post-tropical cyclone Ophelia unleashes heavy rain across the Northeast, the region remains on high alert, bracing for further impact from this formidable weather system.

Stay tuned for updates on this evolving situation.

Impacts of Climate Change on Storm Events

Is Storm Ophelia a post-tropical cyclone?

Amid its journey along the U.S. East Coast, Storm Ophelia underwent a significant transformation. Once a potent storm, it has now been officially downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone. This change in classification has not diminished its impact, as it continues to unleash heavy rainfall and powerful winds along the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Ophelia’s transition highlights the dynamic nature of tropical storms and the potential for continued weather-related challenges even after such downgrades.

Can Ophelia cause flash flooding?

As Ophelia transitions into a post-tropical cyclone, the potential for flash flooding remains a concern. From Washington, D.C., to New York along the Mid-Atlantic coast, the threat of flash flooding persists. Even in its altered state, Ophelia’s heavy rains can lead to sudden and dangerous inundation, emphasizing the ongoing impact of this weather system.

Did Tropical Storm Ophelia overflow the Tidal Basin in Washington?

Yes, the impact of Tropical Storm Ophelia was keenly felt in Washington as the Tidal Basin overflowed its banks due to the heavy rain. The rainfall from Ophelia led to this inundation, demonstrating the severity of the storm’s effects. In North Carolina, residents received a stern warning to "avoid the downtown area" as approximately 3 to 4 feet of storm surge from Ophelia inundated the city’s boardwalk area, as conveyed through an official city Facebook post.

Will heavy rain affect New England’s Ophelia?

Indeed, heavy rain remains a cause for concern as Ophelia progresses. The National Weather Service has issued a warning indicating the potential for significant flooding that could lead to road closures and pose threats to homes and businesses in certain areas. As Ophelia weakens on its journey up the East Coast, this heavy rainfall is expected to shift northeastward, impacting parts of both New England and the Northern mid-Atlantic on Sunday.

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