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As the Delaware Valley braces for another winter rain storm expected to dump several inches on parts of the region, New Jersey has issued a state of emergency for all 21 counties, opening up additional resources to respond in the event of storm damage.
“Please do not underestimate this storm,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday. “Particularly given its intensity, [it] will be in the darkness of night, through the middle of the night from tomorrow night through Wednesday morning.”
Murphy’s declaration will go into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday, just as the worst of the system is expected to move into the region. Up to four inches of rain are possible for some areas of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to the National Weather Service in Mount Holly. Wind gusts of 55 to 65 miles per hour are also possible.
It comes as the region is already dealing with above-average rainfall from storms last weekend and in December, with meteorologists raising concerns about how much more precipitation the region’s soil can handle.
Officials are warning of outages due to downed power lines. A high wind warning is in effect for the coastal counties from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 4 a.m. Wednesday morning.
New Jersey State Police Colonel Pat Callahan said substantial flooding is possible, adding the incoming storm system is “not to be taken lightly.”
“We will have our Urban Search and Rescue Team and swift water rescue teams staged in the center of the state, which will be able to go to any county that requires our assistance in that regard,” Callahan said. “That includes our Marine Services Bureau with vessels. It also includes high water vehicles and some of the highest trained personnel in order to rescue people in swift water.”
Flood watches will be in effect for counties throughout the Delaware Valley from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon.
“I think it’s human nature to say, ‘Well, it’s not snow, we’re going to be okay,’” Murphy said. “But we’ve seen with Ida and other storms that a lot of rain, high winds and flooding can cause not just a lot of damage, but put lives at risk.”
As of Sunday, Philadelphia had a total of 8.96 inches of total precipitation through December and January. The city typically averages 9.85 inches for all of December through February, according to the NWS.
After the rain moves out Wednesday, temperatures are expected to peak between the low 40s and mid-50s, Fahrenheit, with lows between the high 20s and upper 40s.