1 dies in flooding as storms threaten to move up East Coast

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Wet Weather Pattern Will Persist in Parts of the Northeast

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- One person died Thursday as heavy flooding submerged cars and closed streets in South Carolina, and the drenching storms were expected to move up the East Coast, a region already swamped by rain.

Governors up and down the coast warned residents to prepare. The rains could cause power outages and close more roads. The approach of Hurricane Joaquin (wah-KEEN') - a major Category 4 storm set to wallop the Bahamas and move toward the U.S. - could intensify the damage, but rain is forecast across the region regardless of the storm's path.

SEE ALSO: 'Joaquin' strengthens to Category 4, batters Bahamas

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that the state is already moving equipment, including generators and pumps, into position while state emergency officials watch the storm's progress. Upgrades and repairs made after Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene have made New York and New York City better prepared for the next tropical storm, Cuomo said.

In Spartanburg, South Carolina, the heavy rains flooded and closed streets. Several cars were submerged in flash floods. One man was rescued Thursday morning after his vehicle was swept off the road where a culvert had washed out, Doug Bryson with Spartanburg County Emergency Management told local news outlets. The man managed to cling to a tree and was taken to a hospital for treatment, though there was no immediate word on his condition.

Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said 56-year-old Sylvia Arteaga of Spartanburg died Thursday morning. She was driving underneath an overpass just outside city limits when her car flooded "to capacity" inside.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Joaquin was bearing down on the Bahamas, and forecasters said the storm is likely to strengthen as it makes its way toward the U.S.

But no matter which way Joaquin heads, an area of low pressure in the Southeast and a front stalled over the East Coast will pull moisture from the Atlantic Ocean, causing rain over the next few days, said Bruce Terry, lead forecaster for the government's Weather Prediction Center. The National Weather Service predicts as much as 10 inches for some areas.

"The bottom line is: We are expecting very heavy rains all the way from the Carolinas up into New England," he said.

Photos of the severe East Coast weather:

21 PHOTOS
Severe weather, east coast, 9/30 - 10/2
See Gallery
1 dies in flooding as storms threaten to move up East Coast
Flood waters enveloped this neighborhood in the Strathmere section of Upper Township N.J. on Friday Oct. 2, 2015. Despite forecasts showing the impending Hurricane Joaquin may move out to sea and not directly strike New Jersey, crews along the shore were nonetheless taking precautions against flooding from a wind and rainstorm that preceded Joaquin and that was causing some flooding in southern New Jersey on Friday. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
Cars drive through a flooded intersection during high tide on Chincoteague Island, Va., on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015. Virginia State Police say they've responded to dozens of vehicle crashes throughout the state as heavy rains cause problems for motorists. (AP Photo/David Dishneau)
Juan Carlos Sanchez uses his shoes to paddle a kayak on a flooded street near Collins Ave., Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Miami Beach, Fla. The street flooding was in part caused by high tides due to the lunar cycle, according to the National Weather Service. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
PORTLAND, ME - SEPTEMBER 30: A pickup truck plows through heavy floodwater on Somerset Street near Whole Food Market Wednesday, September 30, 2015. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Louis Fernandez walks along a flooded Collins Ave. from his apartment to a nearby restaurant, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Miami Beach, Fla. The street flooding was in part caused by high tides due to the lunar cycle, according to the National Weather Service. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
A woman gets a ride on a police truck navigating a flooded Indian Creek Drive, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Miami Beach, Fla. The street flooding was in part caused by high tides due to the lunar cycle, according to the National Weather Service. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
PORTLAND, ME - SEPTEMBER 30: Torrential rain pounded Southern Maine causing flooding in Portland Wednesday, September 30, 2015. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Ryan Crews, a tourist from San Francisco, walks her rental bicycle along a flooded Collins Ave., Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Miami Beach, Fla. (The street flooding was in part caused by high tides due to the lunar cycle, according to the National Weather Service. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
A worker prepares to tow a stranded vehicle from a flooded road on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Guilderland, N.Y. The National Weather Service has issued flood watches for much of the eastern half of upstate New York as a storm dumps more than two inches of rain across the region. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Marilyn Turner, left, and Eliza Hoover are shielded from the rain by an umbrella as they sit on the beach at Cape Charles, Va., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. Forecasts for the weekend are calling for more rain in the region as the East Coast tracks Hurricane Joaquin. (Jay Diem/The Daily Times via AP) 
A hotel guest carries his shoes as he is escorted to his car along a flooded Collins Ave., Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Miami Beach, Fla. The street flooding was in part caused by high tides due to the lunar cycle, according to the National Weather Service. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
PORTLAND, ME - SEPTEMBER 30: Laura Hall walks through floodwaters on Pearl Street to return to work at Whole Foods Market after taking a break to move her car to higher ground Wednesday, September 30, 2015. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
A motorist drives through flooding water in Portland, Maine, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. Heavy rain has been moving through northern New England and a flood warning was issued for parts of Maine and New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
A broken umbrella is seen after a storm in Portland, Maine, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. Heavy rain has been moving through northern New England and a flood warning was issued for parts of Maine and New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
A motorist drives through flooding water in Portland, Maine, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. Heavy rain has been moving through northern New England and a flood warning was issued for parts of Maine and New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
The Empire State Building is seen from Pier A Park on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Hoboken, N.J. Officials are taking precautions for the rest of the week as forecasters closely follow Hurricane Joaquin. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A boat passes Pier A Park on the Hudson River with the New York skyline in the background on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Hoboken, N.J. Officials are taking precautions for the rest of the week as forecasters closely follow Hurricane Joaquin. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A police vehicle blocks a flooded road on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Guilderland, N.Y. The National Weather Service has issued flood watches for much of the eastern half of upstate New York as a storm dumps more than two inches of rain across the region. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
A vehicle is stranded on a flooded road on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Guilderland, N.Y. The National Weather Service has issued flood watches for much of the eastern half of upstate New York as a storm dumps more than two inches of rain across the region. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

The heaviest rain is expected in wide swaths of North Carolina and Virginia, along with parts of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey, according to a National Weather Service forecast map.

The National Weather Service issued flash flood watches for Washington D.C., northern Virginia, southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore from Friday morning through late Saturday. Coastal flood warnings and advisories are in effect during the same period in central and southern Delaware and on the Eastern Shore.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Texas A&M University predict as many as 14 million people could lose power depending on where the storm hits the U.S.

Seth Guikema and Steven Quiring said they accurately predicted the loss of power for millions during Sandy. They look at wind speed, storm path and population density.

"Joaquin could have power outage impacts on par with those of Sandy if it maintains a track towards major East Coast population centers, though there is substantial uncertainty about the track," said Guikema, a University of Michigan associate professor of industrial and operations engineering.

In North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency Thursday and said emergency management officials are preparing for expected floods by readying supplies and going over readiness checklists.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon, which allows emergency responders to begin to prepare for the storms.

He also issued tips to residents, including that "when roads are flooded, turn around and drive to a safe location.

"It may save your life."

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie also declared a state of emergency. New Jersey has been hit by intermittent heavy rains and strong on-shore winds the last few days, and that's expected to continue, especially Friday and Saturday.

Officials were closely watching the progress of the hurricane, though its path was far from certain. So far, there's been little consensus among computer-prediction models for the hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami sent a plane aloft Wednesday to gather data about Joaquin that will hopefully "get those models into better agreement," said Rick Knabb, the center's director.

"We're going to be throwing a lot more aircraft resources at this problem over the next few days," he said.

In New England, hundreds of cars were damaged by high water around the region, with some of them totaled and others needing expensive repairs, officials said Thursday. More than 6 inches of rain fell Wednesday in Maine, while New Hampshire got more than 5 inches. Vermont also got heavy rain, but not as much.

---

Associated Press video journalist Tony Winton in Miami and AP writers Martha Waggoner in Raleigh; John Raby in Charleston, West Virginia; Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina; Ed White in Detroit; and Amy Anthony in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.

More from AOL.com:
First wave of cold weather hits migrants hard in Balkans
The numbers behind breast cancer in America
Carson raises $20M for '16 bid in past 3 months

Read Full Story

People are Reading