Rainfall record for March set in Boston; Providence, RI, approaching wettest month ever

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Boston breaks March rainfall record

BOSTON — The city of Boston has shattered an all-time rainfall record for the month of March.

The National Weather Service said that as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, nearly 13 inches of rain had fallen on the city during the month. Up to 2 1/2 inches of additional rain expected by the evening.

The previous record for March was 11 inches in 1953.

Forecasters said it was also the fourth wettest of any month since records were kept starting in 1872.

Providence, R.I. had received about 7.2 inches of rain from the current storm as of 10 a.m., pushing the monthly rainfall total to 14.7 inches. Forecasters said the city was on track to break its all-time monthly record of 15.38 inches, set in October 2005.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BOSTON (AP) — The second major rain storm of the month pounded the Northeast on Tuesday with what meteorologists said could be record-setting rainfall, sending rivers toward flood stage, closing roads, delaying flights and causing a run on basement sump pumps.

About 1,000 National Guard troops were ready for action in Massachusetts, where emergency management officials were monitoring rivers that were expected to reach flood stage, putting additional strain on residents already weary of dealing with flooded yards and basements.

The storm hit as the region continues to recover from a storm two weeks ago that dropped as much as much as 10 inches of rain. The National Weather Service says more than 11 inches of rain had fallen on Boston as of Monday, and the Tuesday’s rain could break the monthly rainfall record set in 1953.

Standing water was pooling on roadways across the region, making driving treacherous and forcing road closures, police said.

Weather-related delays averaged three hours at Newark Liberty International Airport, and two hours at New York’s La Guardia Airport, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In New York City, a mud slide caused some interruptions on a commuter rail line in the Bronx.

The rain also caused a run on basement sump pumps at hardware and home improvement stores.

Jim Tatarczuk, manager of Amesbury Industrial Supply Co. Inc., told The Daily News of Newburyport his store would normally stock about 130 pumps for the spring, but he has sold nearly double that already.

“There are people who are still pumping out from the old storm, and now we have more on its way,” he said.

President Barack Obama issued disaster declarations for many areas of New England to free up federal aid to residents and households for damages caused by late winter and early spring storms. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses.

Wamed Mansour of Paterson, N.J., scrambled Monday to move new computers, phone consoles and fax machines in his office to higher ground — about $10,000 worth of equipment he bought last week to replace what was destroyed earlier this month when his auto parts business flooded with 7 feet of water from the Passaic River.

“It’s been a really tiring few weeks, and now it might be all over again,” Mansour said.

In Rhode Island, meteorologists warned of a possible “life-threatening” situation along the Pawtuxet River, with heavy flooding by Tuesday afternoon that could be as severe as or worse than the mid-March storm. The Blackstone River in Woonsocket was expected to hit 18 feet, nine feet above flood stage, by 2 a.m. Wednesday.

“This is turning out to be a nightmare,” said Steve Kass, spokesman for the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency.

In Cranston, R.I., about 100 people were evacuated from their homes late Monday night because a bridge over the Pawtuxet was closed due to damage from the earlier storm, and authorities were concerned that residents would be without an escape route.

In Connecticut, where the weather service issued flood warnings for the entire state, Gov. M. Jodi Rell opened the state’s emergency operations center. Businesses and homeowners placed sandbags and other barriers along the Yantic River in Norwich on Monday as the river reached flood stage.

New York City was within 3 inches of the March record of 10.54 inches set in 1983, and forecasters said the storm could easily eclipse that mark.

Violent weather from the same system, including at least one tornado, was blamed for injuries to several people and damage to more than 30 homes Sunday night in the Carolinas. Two teenagers in North Carolina died after their car slid off a rain-slick road into a swollen creek.

The rain was tapering off in the Carolinas early Tuesday, but some flood warnings remained.

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Michelle Smith in Providence, R.I.; Wayne Parry in Atlantic City, N.J.; Clarke Canfield in Portland, Maine; Jim Fitzgerald in New York City, Russell Contreras in Boston, Dave Collins in Hartford, Conn.; and Emery P. Dalesio in Raleigh, N.C.

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