The National Weather Service called on commuters to be prepared to travel alternate routes in case of washed-out roads and posted flood warnings and advisories from Maine to the Carolinas, with as much as 5 to 7 inches of rain expected over the coming days.
The storm hits as the Northeast works to recover from a storm March 13-15 that dropped as much as much as 10 inches of rain, causing several rivers to rise and flooding basements throughout the region.
The rainiest March on record in Boston was in 1953, when 11 inches fell during the month; nearly 10 inches had fallen before the start of this latest storm. New York is within 3 inches of its March record of 10.54 inches set in 1983, reports CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano.
Wamed Mansour of Paterson, N.J., was scrambling Monday to move new computers, phone consoles and fax machines in his office to higher ground - about $10,000 worth of equipment he bought last week to replace what was destroyed earlier this month when his auto parts business flooded with 7 feet of water from the Passaic River.
"It's been a really tiring few weeks, and now it might be all over again," Mansour said.
In Rhode Island, meteorologists warned of a possible "life-threatening" situation along the Pawtuxet River, with heavy flooding by Tuesday afternoon that could be as severe as or worse than the mid-March storm.
"This is turning out to be a nightmare," said Steve Kass, spokesman for the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency.
In Cranston, R.I., about 100 people were evacuated from their homes late Monday night because a bridge over the Pawtuxet was closed due to damage from the earlier storm, and authorities were concerned that residents would be without an escape route.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency Monday and mobilized as many as 1,000 National Guardsmen to assist in the event of major flooding.
"Our ground is so wet it's like pouring water into an already saturated sponge," said Tony Sutton, commissioner of Emergency Services for Westchester County, N.Y., north of the city. "Thank God we're not expecting real strong winds. That's a break."
Coastal flooding from rain and high tides was a concern on Long Island beaches. Workers were busy Monday trucking tons of sand to the eastern end of the popular Robert Moses State Park to battle erosion, state parks spokesman George Gorman said.
Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell opened the state's emergency operations center Monday as flood warnings were posted along many rivers and streams throughout the state.
Road closures were reported Monday in several states, including New Jersey.
Violent weather from the same system, including at least one tornado, was blamed for injuries to several people and damage to more than 30 homes Sunday night in the Carolinas. Two teenagers in North Carolina died after their car slid off a rain-slick road into a swollen creek.
The rain was tapering off in the Carolinas early Tuesday, but some flood warnings remained.