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Nor'easter spurs rescues in New Jersey as areas brace for hurricane-force wind gusts

Up to 5 inches of rain and wind gusts over 70 mph will be possible for the Northeast and New England through Wednesday.
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Roads flooded and people in New Jersey were rescued Tuesday as a nor'easter drenched the New York City region, while officials in Massachusetts warned of 60-mph winds and heavy rain.

New York City's Central Park had seen almost 3 inches of rain by 1 p.m., and part of New Jersey recorded more than 4 inches of rain, forecasters said.

Police in Hazlet Township, New Jersey, where more than 4 1/2 inches of rain fell, said there was flooding on almost every road in town and urged people to stay home, although conditions later improved.

"We had about 40 calls for service between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., which is quite a lot," Police Chief Ted Wittke told NBC New York. First responders in Keyport got two people out of a stuck car before it caught fire, police there said.

In the Boston area, the peak impacts were expected to be felt Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service said.

Maximum wind gust forecasts were almost 60 mph in Boston. Coastal areas, like Cape Cod, are forecast to experience the fiercest winds of all, with wind gusts of 70 mph or stronger.

The strong winds combined with top-heavy trees that still have leaves on them will likely cause numerous power outages, especially across southern New England, where the winds were forecast to be the highest.

Pat Clarke, of Plymouth, was supposed to travel to Western Massachusetts this week but told NBC Boston the forecast prompted a change of plans.

"There will be a lot of wind, rain and streets flooded and trees down, so here we are," he told the station.

In New York City, almost 4 inches of rain was reported in lower Manhattan and more than 4 inches was seen in Brooklyn in the last 24 hours, according to the weather service — which are amounts approaching the rainfall typically seen in a month. The average rainfall for the month of October is 4.68 inches.

This event will also produce the most rainfall in a day since Ida dropped more than 7 inches of rain over the city last month. More than 40 people were killed in the area in that storm.

The governors of New York and New Jersey declared states of emergency in advance of the storm, which allows for state resources to be used in response efforts.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is taking precautions in high-risk neighborhoods hurt by Ida.

The nor'easter does have the potential to become a bomb cyclone, similar to the record-setting storm that slammed the West Coast on Sunday. This storm off the East Coast will not be as strong as the Western storm, but if it drops 24 millibars in 24 hours it will fit the definition of bomb cyclone. For perspective, the western storm dropped 46 millibars in 24 hours.

Bomb cyclones are expected to become more common due to climate change. Bomb cyclones are caused by the extreme temperature differences between warm water and cold air masses. With warming waters due to climate change, research reveals bomb cyclones will be become more common, more intense, and occur farther north in the Pacific Ocean, specifically. The relationship is not as strong for the Atlantic Ocean where the same research suggests bomb cyclones may become less frequent overall. However, when they do occur they will be more intense compared to past cyclones.

After the nor'easter affects the East Coast, it could move out over the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream and acquire tropical or subtropical characteristics.

On Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center designated the area of low pressure as Invest 94-L and gave it a 20 percent chance of development in two days and 50 percent in five days. Should it be named, the next and final name on this year’s official Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Name list is Wanda.

The Northeast won't have much time to dry out, as there's more rain in the forecast for the region on Friday.

That rain will come from a storm system that will produce severe thunderstorms in the Plains on Tuesday afternoon and evening.

About 12 million people are under risk for severe storms Tuesday across the central and southern Plains. Wind gusts in excess of 70 mph and large hail up to softball-size will be the main risks, as well as a few tornadoes. Cities at risk included Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Wichita, Kansas; and Dallas.

On Wednesday, the severe threat shifts east to include portions of the Gulf Coast and Houston, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama.

This storm system will eventually move east and bring another round of rain and wind to the Midwest and Southeast, the Great Lakes on Thursday and eventually the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast by Friday.