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Nicole causes problems farther up coast

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POSTED: September 30, 2010 4:15 p.m.
WILMINGTON, N.C. - A massive rainstorm drenched the East Coast from the Carolinas to Maine on Thursday, washing out commutes and wiping away months of dry weather.

The storm was driven by what was left of Tropical Storm Nicole, which cropped up quickly just south of Cuba and headed nearly straight north, but fizzled out over the Florida Straits. It caused about two days of drizzle in Coastal Georgia, but no heavy rain.

The storm flooded parts of coastal North Carolina, driving some people from their homes, and snarled train, air and car traffic in the Northeast. Tornado watches extended from the Outer Banks to New Jersey. But no deaths or major damage were reported.

The hardest rain fell in North Carolina, where Jacksonville picked up 12 inches of rain - nearly a quarter of its typical annual rainfall - in the six hours between 3:30 and 9:30 a.m.

The rain was part of a system moving ahead of the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole, which dissipated over the Straits of Florida on Wednesday.

"This is more like what you'd expect from a tropical system. But this is not a tropical system. It's just a storm with a deep feed coming straight off the Atlantic," said Hal Austin, a meteorologist with the weather service's Newport, N.C., office.

Much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast were starting to move into a drought after the dry summer. But the early fall storm spread several inches of rain across the region.

Crews throughout the northeast worked to pull fallen leaves from storm drains. Schools in North Carolina were closed and some farther north planned to cancel classes Friday so students wouldn't have to travel on flooded roads.

Josh Barnello, 12, took advantage of his day off to take a look at a pond that overflowed its banks in Carolina Beach.

"Someone was paddling a canoe down the street earlier," said Barnello, a budding meteorologist who used a wind speed gauge he got for Christmas to record gusts of 53 mph near his house.

Forecasters expected those heavy winds to spread up the coast, possibly toppling trees and power lines made unstable by the saturated ground.

The winds were also churning up big waves that were eating away at a "living shoreline" of rocks, sand and grasses built this year on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, said Bob Gilbert from his waterfront home in Churchton, about 10 miles south of Annapolis.


 

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