A strong storm that spawned tornadoes lumbered up the East Coast with high winds and soaking rain Wednesday, closing schools and causing flooding that officials said led to at least four deaths in three states.
The National Weather Service issued a series of warnings, including for parts of New Jersey, as a volatile collision of warm and cold air threatened to produce thunderstorms that could cause tornadoes.
Authorities shut schools in portions of West Virginia because of the high water. Floods and rockslides closed parts of 100 roads in the state. Gov. Bob Wise declared emergencies in at least a dozen counties.
In Maryland, a boy drowned in a creek, and at least one construction worker who was caught in floodwaters while working on a storm drain died, Associated Press reported.
Pennsylvania state police said a woman was killed when her car skidded on a wet road and crashed. In West Virginia, a man's body was found in his vehicle in a rain-swollen creek near Fort Gay, authorities said.
About 4 inches of rain fell in 24 hours in parts of West Virginia, and an additional 4 inches was possible by today, the weather service said late Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the water was 3 feet deep as streams overflowed in Bluefield, W.Va.
Bernice Burnette, owner of Bunny's Suburban Shoppe in Bluefield, spent part of Wednesday arranging for water to be pumped out of her women's apparel store.
"We have had 6 inches of water in the basement," Burnette said. "Streets were flooded.... Water was gushing out of the main water drains along the main streets."
The weather service also issued flood warnings for parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Forecasters said the combination of heavy rainfall and debris clogging storm drains could cause dangerous driving conditions on roadways.
Dan McCarthy, the warning coordinator meteorologist at the weather service's storm prediction center in Norman, Okla., said the system moved up through Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and the Carolinas.