Following one of its wettest days in recent memory, New York City started to dry out on Saturday as traffic resumed on the roads, subways, and airports that had been briefly closed by the heavy rain on Friday.
The National Weather Service reported that John F. Kennedy International Airport experienced record rainfall of more than 8.65 inches (21.97 centimeters), breaking the previous mark for a September day established during Hurricane Donna in 1960.
More than 7.25 inches (18.41 centimeters) of rain fell in several areas of Brooklyn, with at least one location receiving 2.5 inches (6 centimeters) in a single hour. This caused some streets to become knee-deep canals and left motorists stranded on roads.
Governor Kathy Hochul stated at a briefing Saturday morning at a transportation control center in Manhattan that although further rain was anticipated for the day, the worst of the storm had passed.
The governor declared, “We’ve seen a whole lot of rainfall in a very short period of time.” The storm will pass, so there should be some clearing of the rivers today and tonight, according to the good news.
The deluge occurred two years after Hurricane Ida’s aftermath dumped unprecedented amounts of rain on the Northeast and left at least 13 people dead, the majority of whom were living in flooded basement apartments in New York City. Despite the fact that there have been no fatalities or serious injuries, Friday’s storm brought up dreadful memories.
Three of Joy Wong’s neighbors, including a little child, were murdered by Ida. And on Friday, water started splashing against the entrance to her Woodside, Queens, building.
She claimed, “I was so worried,” adding that it had become too hazardous to go. “Outside was like a lake, like the ocean.”
The basement of the structure quickly became nearly completely submerged in water. The basement was converted into an entertainment area following the family’s passing in 2021. Now it is obliterated.
Six flooded basement flats were reported to the city authorities on Friday, but all six residents made it out without incident.
Mayor Eric Adams and Hochul proclaimed states of emergency and urged people to remain indoors if at all possible.
Almost all metro lines were running with delays, being redirected, or being suspended in some capacity. For the majority of the day, Metro-North commuter rail service from Manhattan was suspended; however, by nightfall, it had started to resume. Bus service was affected citywide, 44 of the city’s 3,500 buses became stranded, and the Long Island Rail Road was backed up, according to transit officials.
On Saturday, a few service outages persisted.
Earlier in the day, a section of the FDR Drive, a major thoroughfare along Manhattan’s east side, experienced a complete stop in traffic. Some drivers abandoned their cars because water was above the tires.
Workers were knee-deep in water trying to unblock a storm drain on a street in Brooklyn’s South Williamsburg area while cardboard and other garbage drifted by. To navigate flooded sidewalks, some individuals set up milk crates and wooden planks.
Water at the refueling area caused a brief suspension of flights into LaGuardia in the morning, which was then followed by a delay. One of the airport’s three terminals had to be closed for many hours due to flooding. Around 8:00 p.m. local time, Terminal A resumed its regular operations.
Other towns and communities close to New York City, including Hoboken, New Jersey, also experienced floods.
Why so much rain?
At a time of year when conditions off the ocean are extremely fertile for storms, Tropical Storm Ophelia’s remnants over the Atlantic Ocean coupled with a mid-latitude system moving in from the west, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Ross Dickman. For twelve hours, this combo storm stayed over New York.
According to Dickman, the weather service had advised emergency managers to prepare for more than 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain in some locations and had predicted 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 13 centimeters) of rain overall.
Less than three months prior, a storm that flooded Montpelier, the state capital of Vermont, and caused devastating flooding in the H
According to atmospheric scientists, as the world heats, storms are developing in a hotter atmosphere that can contain more moisture, increasing the frequency of extreme rainfall.
In the case of the storm on Friday, local water temperatures were below average, and air temperatures weren’t particularly warm either. However, it was the third time in two years that Central Park experienced rain falling at rates close to 2 inches (5 cm) per hour, which is exceptional, according to Adam Sobel, a climate scientist at Columbia University.
By Friday night, 5.8 inches (14.73 cm) of rain had fallen in the park.