NYC Streets Flooded, Subways Snarled by Downpour

Multiple New York City subway lines were shut, streets were inundated and flights canceled after several inches of torrential rain pelted the metropolitan area, prompting flood warnings across the region.

(Bloomberg) — Multiple New York City subway lines were shut, streets were inundated and flights canceled after several inches of torrential rain pelted the metropolitan area, prompting flood warnings across the region. 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency Friday across all of New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley, saying state agencies were prepared to offer assistance. Mayor Eric Adams and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also declared emergencies.

Metro-North trains were not running from Grand Central, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Friday afternoon. Travelers leaving Manhattan were advised to take the subway to Metro-North stations in the Bronx.

More than 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain fell in Brooklyn and nearly that amount in Manhattan as New York found itself facing the worst of a coastal storm dragging across the Northeast.

The extreme weather is “something that we cannot take lightly,” Adams said at a joint press conference with Hochul and other city and state emergency-management officials. He said the city could see up to 8 inches of rainfall by the end of the day. It’s “a time for heightened alertness” and “it is extremely difficult to move around the city,” Adams said.

There was only “extremely limited” subway service and many stations were closed because of heavy flooding, the MTA said. Roughly 3,500 of the city’s buses were still operational, and people who must travel should use buses, MTA Chief Executive Officer Janno Lieber said at the briefing. 

The flash flooding was also snarling traffic on roads and at airports. The New York City Police Department reported full closures at the FDR Drive and Delancey Street in both directions and all lanes in both directions on portions of the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. 

In addition, flooding has been reported on numerous roads around the city, including the Grand Central Parkway, I-495 and the Northern State Parkway, the New York Department of Transportation website said.

Terminal Shut

At least 177 flights into and out of LaGuardia Airport have been canceled, according to FlightAware, an airline tracking company. Terminal A was closed.

All New York City schools were open, Chancellor David Banks said, despite the fact that some buildings had taken on water. The city’s school buses are pre-positioned for dismissal and are being staged early enough to give the buses time to get children home, Banks said. 

The deluge that has slacked off a bit is far from over and additional heavy rain could fall later Friday, said Zack Taylor, a senior branch forecaster with the US Weather Prediction Center. 

In some places rain was falling as fast as 2 inches per hour.

“It is not advisable to be traveling around New York,” Taylor said. “They are definitely not out of the woods yet. It is a pretty serious and life-threatening situation.”

New York City officials urged residents in basement apartments to seek higher ground, and said the city had so far fielded six calls to rescue people trapped in basement apartments. There have been no reports yet of any fatalities related to the rain or flooding, city officials said. 

New York City Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol said the rain was the most severe the city had seen since Ida flooded parts of the city in September 2021. More than 40 people died across New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut in the aftermath of that storm, when the region saw flash floods in areas because Hurricane Ida’s remnants. In New York City, many flood victims were people living in basement apartments who were unable to escape the rising water.

“This changing weather pattern is the result of climate change,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Rohit Aggarwala said at the briefing, noting that the city’s sewer systems weren’t built to manage such heavy rainfall. 

The world is seeing more extreme weather as it grapples with a changing climate. Record warm conditions across large parts of the Atlantic this year have fueled storms in some areas, while drought in others has contributed to massive wildfires and struggling crops and farmers. The world had its warmest August in at least 174 years in 2023.

Social media users in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, posted videos on X, formerly known as Twitter, showing flooded streets. 

(Updates with no Metro-North service from Grand Central in third paragraph)

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