As the New York metropolitan area witnessed one of the city’s wettest days in decades, videos showing floodwater spilling into subways, onto railways, flooding roads, and causing major disruptions have been widely circulating online.
New York City and the areas surrounding it experienced relentless heavy rainfall on Friday, resulting in flash floods, the complete shutdown of subway lines, inundated roads, and the relocation of students to upper floors in flooded school buildings. Governor Kathy Hochul also declared a state of emergency and encouraged residents across New York to remain indoors. She specifically cautioned those residing in basements to prepare for potentially severe conditions.
Weather and city officials reported that, by midday on Friday, some areas of Brooklyn had received nearly 7 inches (18 centimeters) of rainfall, with one location experiencing a staggering 2.5 inches (6 centimeters) in just one hour.
So scary, New York City is flooding! The governor has declared a state of emergency. Climate change will only continue to make this worse pic.twitter.com/bqN16XlDoW
— Sophia Kianni (@SophiaKianni) September 29, 2023
In one of the videos posted on social media platforn X, a construction worker can be seen working on a flooded road of New York City.
— North X (@__NorthX) September 29, 2023
Some people also took to social media platforms to explain the reason why the city is grappling with floods, claiming among several reasons that “the city is made out of concrete, and concrete does not absorb water.”
If you’re in NYC you know it’s insane outside and the flooding is only getting worse, but why? Please listen to her.#flashflood #flashflooding #flooding #flood #newyork #newyorkcity #nyc #brooklyn #rain #rainstorm #storm #downpour #streetflooding #brooklynflooding #NYCFlooding pic.twitter.com/MVaOxYEW0s
— Shadab Javed (@JShadab1) September 29, 2023
In a separate video, vehicles can be seen submerged in water, while commuters are making their way back home on foot amidst scenes of disorder and chaos. This deluge has occurred two years after the remnants of Hurricane Ida unleashed record-breaking rainfall on the Northeast, resulting in the tragic loss of at least 13 lives in New York City, predominantly in flooded basement apartments. While there have been no reports of fatalities or serious injuries from Friday’s storm thus far, it has rekindled unsettling memories.
The pouring rain that hit New York City and the surrounding region on Friday caused flash floods and crippled the city’s vast subway system. Water rushed over major roadways, submerging cars. In schools, children were rushed to upper floors. pic.twitter.com/aK4Bzxt4H3
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 30, 2023
As the torrential downpour struck the New York metropolitan area with remarkable force, even causing the closure of a terminal at LaGuardia Airport, state and city officials urged residents not to underestimate the storm. Governor Hochul characterised it as a “life-threatening rainfall event,” and Mayor Eric Adams emphasised that the storm was something they couldn’t afford to dismiss lightly.
— Chaudhary Parvez (@ChaudharyParvez) September 30, 2023
Why so much rain?
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According to National Weather Service meteorologist Ross Dickman, the remains of Tropical Storm Ophelia in the Atlantic Ocean merged with a mid-latitude system approaching from the west, news agency AP reported. This convergence occurred during a season when the atmospheric conditions over the ocean were especially conducive to storm development.
This amalgamation of storms remained stationary over New York for a duration of 12 hours. The weather service had issued warnings forecasting 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 13 centimeters) of rainfall and advised emergency managers to anticipate over 6 inches (15 centimeters) in specific areas, as explained by Dickman. This inundation occurred in less than three months following a storm that led to fatal floods in New York’s Hudson Valley and inundated Vermont’s capital, Montpelier.
Due to the extreme flooding that is occurring across New York City, the water level in the Sea Lion area rose significantly. As a result, the Sea Lions were able to swim over… pic.twitter.com/XCZ5FFZK5B
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) September 29, 2023
Could this event have been worse?
Meteorologist Mark Bove highlighted on X, previously known as Twitter, that the most substantial rainfall from the storm primarily happened just offshore, accumulating to more than 8.5 inches, The New York Times reported. Had this amount fallen directly over the city, it would have constituted the most severe flooding catastrophe the city has ever witnessed, he pointed out.
(With inputs from AP and The New York Times)