East Coast drenching continues, Tropical Storm Nate forms off Mexico

WINDHAM, N.Y. — Drenched and dispirited, East Coast residents recovering from Hurricane Irene were stuck under the chugging remnants of Tropical Storm Lee on Wednesday, some of them grudgingly preparing to move to higher ground yet again as rivers rose.

From Maryland to New England, heavy rains swelled waterways, flooded highways and stretched emergency responders already dealing with cleanup from last week's punishing blow from Irene. Sodden ground gave rain nowhere to go but directly into streams, creeks and rivers that rushed a turbid red-brown past rural communities.

"Now it's getting on my last nerves," said Carol Slater, 53, of Huntersfield, N.Y., on the northern edge of New York's Catskill Mountains and just outside of hard-hit Prattsville.

The National Weather Service predicted heavy rain would continue across the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states through today with anywhere from 4 to 7 more inches falling and up to 10 in isolated pockets. Flood watches and warnings were up throughout the region.

Lee formed just off the Louisiana coast late last week and gained strength as it lingered in the gulf for a couple of days. It dumped more than a foot of rain in New Orleans and trudged across Mississippi and Alabama.

Tornadoes spawned by Lee damaged hundreds of homes, and flooding knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people. Trees were uprooted and roads were flooded. Winds fanned wildfires in Louisiana and Texas, and the storm even kicked up tar balls on the Gulf Coast.

At least four people died; no deaths were reported Wednesday. Irene was blamed for at least 46 deaths and billions of dollars in damage.

Other storm news

T.S. NATE: Tropical Storm Nate formed in the Gulf of Mexico, and authorities have issued a tropical storm warning for parts of Mexico's coast. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Nate could become a hurricane by Friday. The storm was nearly stationary Wednesday night. Nate was expected to move very little today, and then it will start to move north by Friday. Nate's maximum sustained winds were at 45 mph (72 kph) Wednesday.

T.S. Maria: Tropical Storm Maria was swirling in the western Atlantic. It was still far from land and was not expected to strengthen in the next couple of days.

Hurricane Katia: Continued to blow as a Category 1 storm in the Atlantic and was not expected to hit land. However, it was pushing large swells to the U.S. East Coast and Bermuda.

TAR BALLS: BP workers used fishing nets to scoop tar balls off Alabama's Gulf Coast beaches Wednesday after the white sands were fouled by gooey, dark gobs churned up by heavy surf from tropical system Lee.

East Coast drenching continues, Tropical Storm Nate forms off Mexico 09/07/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 8, 2011 12:29am]

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