By Akane Otani
Tropical Storm Isaias barreled through New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Tuesday, unleashing torrential rain and leaving hundreds of thousands of residents without power.
The National Weather Service said Isaias was expected to deliver up to 5 inches of rain in some parts of the region and possibly lead to flooding. Weather forecasters and state officials also warned of the potential for tornadoes to hit southeast New York, northeast New Jersey and southern Connecticut.
As the storm picked up speed, it knocked out power across the region. By midday Tuesday, around 350,000 households in New Jersey were left in the dark, according to Jersey Central Power & Light, which serves about 1.1 million customers in the state. About 11,000 customers in Staten Island and 5,000 households in Brooklyn also lost power, according to electric utility Consolidated Edison Inc.
Jersey Central Power & Light didn't say when it expected to be able to restore power to affected households. ConEd said it expected to be able to restore power in Staten Island by around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and in Brooklyn by around 6 p.m.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency late Monday and urged state residents to stay off the roads and at home.
"If you are out on our roads and come across a flooded section, do not attempt to cross it. Turn around, don't drown," Mr. Murphy said on Twitter.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also warned residents to stay at home.
"Between the rain, flooding potential, the winds and even a potential tornado -- that's a lot," Mr. de Blasio said at a press briefing on Tuesday. "Don't go outside if you don't need to during the high point of the storm."
City workers spent Monday preparing for the storm, laying down sand bags and "tiger dams" -- flood barriers filled with water -- around a mile-long stretch of lower Manhattan that experts believed was particularly susceptible to flooding.
After making landfall in North Carolina late Monday as a Category 1 hurricane, Isaias generated multiple tornadoes in the state and in Virginia, causing at least one death and multiple injuries. While the storm has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, officials warned that residents in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut should be on alert for potentially dangerous conditions.
New York City officials prohibited swimming at beaches on Tuesday, citing forecasts from the National Weather Service that ocean swells could be as high as 10 feet.
"While surfing will still be allowed, lifeguards will not be on duty, and we strongly urge all New Yorkers not to risk their lives by ignoring this directive," Mitchell J. Silver, commissioner of the city's Department of Parks & Recreation, said in a statement.
Staff at city-owned marinas also checked on water pumps and generators ahead of the storm. The facilities will have staff on site 24/7 during the storm, said Nate Grove, chief of waterfront and marine operations at the parks department.
Meanwhile, several tourist attractions and businesses announced on social media and online that they were closed for the day, including the Statue of Liberty National Monument and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. The New York Yankees, which had been scheduled to face off against the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday evening at Yankee Stadium, postponed their game as well.
Commuter service was also disrupted. New York City's ferry service and the tram connecting Manhattan and Roosevelt Island were suspended as of noon, while Metro-North Railroad urged customers to finish their travels by early afternoon because it anticipated weather-related delays.
Isaias is the second tropical storm to hit New York this summer. If it sustains its speed of 70 mile-per-hour gusts, it would be the strongest storm to hit New York since superstorm Sandy in 2012, which destroyed thousands of homes and caused widespread power outages.
Write to Akane Otani at firstname.lastname@example.org