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Nor'easter pounds New York and East Coast

Story Highlights

NEW: Storm system blamed for one death
NEW: Flooding in the Bronx shuts down commuter rail service
NEW: Boston, coastal Massachusetts to feel storm's brunt
• New York mayor urges the use mass transit Monday
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- As an oncoming nor'easter dumped heavy rains along the mid-Atlantic coast, Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged New Yorkers to use mass transit Monday and take other precautions.

The storm system was blamed for one death, which occurred in Sumter County, South Carolina, when a suspected tornado touched down Sunday morning. State emergency management spokesman Joe Farmer said other counties reported downed trees and some damage to buildings, but there were no other reports of injuries, he said.

In New York, the storm was expected to cause coastal flooding as it crossed Long Island on Sunday night, with tides 3-5 feet above normal, but Bloomberg said schools will be open Monday. (Watch the tide rise on a New York beach Video)

A flood warning was in effect until early Monday, though no mandatory evacuations had been ordered. Commuter train service between upper Manhattan and Connecticut was interrupted Sunday night because of flooding in parts of the Bronx, transit officials reported.

"If you can avoid driving tonight, please stay off the roads," Bloomberg told reporters from the city's emergency operations center. "Tomorrow morning, I cannot encourage you enough to use mass transit."

Although nine emergency shelters had been opened in the city's five boroughs, they were housing just two people as of dusk, he said.

"If you want to sum up what has happened with this storm, the rains have been pretty much what had been forecast, and fortunately the winds have been lighter than what was forecast," Bloomberg said.

In Elmhurst, Queens, 1,300 homes were without power.

The nor'easter was blamed for 350 flight cancellations at New York City's three area airports on Sunday, with delays exceeding eight hours at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

At LaGuardia Airport, arrival delays were averaging about three hours, the FAA's Web site said.

Hundreds of people were stranded at LaGuardia when their flights were canceled. Some who couldn't find a seat spread out their bags on the floor and slept on them.

"It's the weather, what can we do?" asked Myre Maureen Harte, whose Florida flight had been delayed for 15 hours. "We should be compensated in some way for this."

Delays were averaging two hours at Newark-Liberty International, while the average arrival delay at Boston's Logan International was slightly more than an hour.

At Philadelphia International Airport, delays were two hours.

"It is imperative that folks check with their carriers," said Pasquale DiFulco, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

In western North Carolina, the central pressure of the intense low pressure system was estimated at 986 millibars (mb), and was expected to drop to 977 Sunday evening, well below the record low of 991.57 mb recorded during a storm that struck New England in December 1992.

Flood warnings were issued for much of coastal Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York, including the cities of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the greater New York metropolitan area.

Some roads had already flooded in the New York metro area by Sunday afternoon. Flooding was reported in Lodi, New Jersey, where the Saddle River overflowed near Route 46, causing several businesses to be evacuated, including a funeral home, police said.

Flooding was also reported in Macungie, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.; Elkton, Maryland; Hopatcong, New Jersey; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Camden, New Jersey; Lindenwold, New Jersey; Brass Castle, New Jersey; and Edgewater Park, New Jersey, the National Weather Service said. (Watch flooding on the East Coast and West Virginia Video)

In coastal areas of New England, 4 inches to 6 inches of rain were possible, the Weather Service said.

By Monday, Boston and coastal Massachusetts will experience the high tides and coastal flooding, the weather service said. Winds of 25-35 mph are expected to decrease as the day progresses.

In coastal areas of New England, four to six inches of rain were possible, the weather service said. And the rain could turn to snow as it moved into parts of the region, such as northern Vermont.


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City workers ride on a front-end loader through floodwaters Sunday in Mamaroneck, New York.

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