NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Lee sloshed through the East on Wednesday, killing two people and shutting roads and railways as it caused flooding, downed trees and construction equipment, and sparked a possible tornado.
Amid pounding rain, a crane collapsed on the grounds of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where it was stationed to repair damage from last month’s earthquake.
In Virginia, a “potential tornado” ripped through Carroll County, sending one person to the hospital, Virginia Department of Emergency Management spokesman Bob Spieldenner said.
The drenching storm traveled East from Tennessee, where it dumped 10 inches of rain in that state. Rain across the Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic states forecast through Thursday was expected to drop 4 to 8 inches there, with 10 possible in some areas, the National Weather Service said.
“These rains may cause life threatening flash floods and mudslides,” the National Weather Service said on its website.
The Appalachians and interior Northeast, particularly Altoona and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and Elkins, West Virginia, were most at risk for flooding, according to AccuWeather.com meteorologists.
In Tennessee, enormous trees became uprooted in soaked soil, toppling over and killing a woman in Chattanooga attempting to move her cars out of the way of rushing water.
“Fell right on top of her,” said Amy Maxwell, spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency.
Another death, a drowning in North Mississippi, was also blamed on Lee, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said.
The government of Maryland forecast thunderstorms Wednesday and Thursday, and a flash flood watch was in effect with a coastal flood watch expected in the evening.
Resurging rivers from Northhampton, Massachusetts, to Philadelphia, already filled from Hurricane Irene, flooded their banks and shut down sections of major roadways just before the morning commute.
Near New York City alone, authorities said they closed down parts of the Hutchinson River Parkway, Saw Mill River Parkway, Bronx River Parkway and Sprain Brook Parkway, and none was expected to open quickly.
In Philadelphia, one of the main commuter routes into Center City, Kelly Drive, was closed because of flooding from the Schuylkill River.
Amtrak suspended service on one of the busiest commuter rail lines in the Philadelphia region, the Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority line from the suburbs of Paoli and Thorndale.
“Several large trees have fallen onto the tracks and have also damaged the overhead electrical system that powers the trains,” an Amtrak statement said.
In Massachusetts, the Mill River in Northampton jumped to flood stage at above 11 feet by mid-morning, flooding roads and affecting some nearby low-lying homes and businesses, the weather service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service said.
The Federal Aviation Administration reported delays at Philadelphia International, Newark International, John F. Kennedy International, La Guardia, and General Edward Lawrence Logan International in Boston due to the weather.
The worst wait was reported at La Guardia on Wednesday morning, with some arriving flights delayed by an average of one hour and 22 minutes.
Additional reporting by Zach Howard in Conway, Mass., Matthew Ward in Chesapeake, Va., Dave Warner in Philadelphia, Molly O'Toole in Washington and Tim Ghianni in Nashville; Editing by Jerry Norton and Cynthia Johnston