New York Area Swamped by Ida’s Rains, Killing at Least Eight

The remnants of Hurricane Ida ripped through New York, New Jersey and across the Northeast early Thursday, killing at least eight people and triggering tornadoes, thunderstorms and torrential rain that inundated streets and paralyzed transport services.

Video of flooding posted on social media showed major thoroughways, airport terminals, baseball stadiums and subway stations turned into wading pools. Seven people died in Brooklyn and Queens, a police spokesman said. An eighth was killed in Passaic, New Jersey, according to local news outlets. Tornadoes hit Maryland and New Jersey. Mayor Bill de Blasio declared an emergency for New York City, while Governor Kathy Hochul did the same for the state. 

New York Area Swamped by Ida’s Rains, Killing at Least Eight

“We’re enduring an historic weather event tonight with record breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads,” de Blasio said in a tweet.

In Manhattan’s Central Park, 3.15 inches (8 centimeters) of rain fell in an hour and as much as 5.2 inches was recorded by 11 p.m., said Rich Otto, a meteorologist with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center. Emergency flash flood warnings were posted from Delaware to Massachusetts. The New York Post reported four people had died in Queens and Brooklyn after getting trapped in their basements.

New York Area Swamped by Ida’s Rains, Killing at Least Eight

The deluge came less than two weeks after Tropical Storm Henri dumped a record amount of rain on New York City, and is the latest in a string of extreme weather events recorded around the world this year as climate change takes hold. Massive wildfires raging in California have blackened huge swaths of the state, western Canada and Siberia, sending smoke over the North Pole for the first time on record. 

Ida smashed into Louisiana on Sunday with record 150-mile-per-hour (241 kilometer) winds, leaving more than 1 million customers across the South, including New Orleans, without electric power and killing at least five people in Louisiana and Mississippi. 

The Northeast has had a particularly wet summer, with the saturated soil leaving the latest rainfall with no place to go. The National Weather Service earlier issued a Flash Flood Emergency for New York City and northeast New Jersey, a rare declaration that exceeds a warning designation. The service said it’s the first time it has sent out one for the region.

New York Area Swamped by Ida’s Rains, Killing at Least Eight

The service also issued a tornado warning for Manhattan and the Bronx in New York City, which expired at 9:30 p.m. A flash flood warning remained in place for large parts of Long Island.

De Blasio said bridges and tunnels remained open but roads were flooded around the city, with just the top of some cars peeking out. The city’s fire and police departments are prepared to assist if needed, de Blasio said in an interview on local news station NY1. “The part I’m worried about particularly is folks out on the road.”

The city’s subway system experienced severe service limitations as water poured onto underground platforms in Manhattan. Three branches of the Metro North Rail Road, which connects to the northern suburbs, were suspended, said Tim Minton, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the city’s buses, subways and commuter rail lines. The Long Island Rail Road train service is suspended on all lines between Penn Station and Jamaica and between Atlantic Terminal and Jamaica.

New York Area Swamped by Ida’s Rains, Killing at Least Eight

In addition to ground travel, 392 flights were canceled at Newark’s Liberty International Airport by 11:30 p.m., according to Flight Aware, an airline tracking service. The airport got 6.42 inches of rain in the three hours ending at 9:51 p.m., roughly the equivalent of seven weeks of average rainfall falling in a few hours, said National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Lamers.

Across Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York 231,778 customers were without power, according to PowerOutage.us. More than 11,000 customers in the New York City area were without power Wednesday night, according to Consolidated Edison Inc.’s outage map. 

Some customers could see power restored as early as Thursday morning while other areas may take a day or two, said Jamie McShane, a spokesman for ConEd.
 

This is the second time in two months that extreme rainfall has flooded parts of New York City’s subway, after Tropical Storm Elsa battered the city in early July.

“It’s flooding, it’s terrible,” said Andy Castillo, 22, one of two dozen people huddled inside the East Broadway subway station in Lower Manhattan who were stranded after the MTA shut down service. Castillo, who works in a Queens supermarket, said he was trying to get home for work early the next morning.

In New Jersey, the rain suspended nearly all of NJ Transit’s rail services. Buses were running with 45-minute delays, said Jim Smith, a spokesman for the agency. 

New York Area Swamped by Ida’s Rains, Killing at Least Eight

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency that took effect at 9 p.m. across all 21 counties in the state, allowing resources to be deployed throughout the state during the duration of the storm. He called an 8 a.m. meeting with state emergency management officials and said he would tour damage of a tornado that hit Harrison Township, which ripped apart dozens of homes. He said more than 80,000 power outages have been reported in New Jersey.

Major flooding is being reported in rivers across the state, where the south branch of the Raritan River in Stanton has reached record heights in just six hours, breaking an old mark set in 1955, the National Weather Service said. The Lackawaxen River in Pennsylvania rose by more than 10 feet (3 meters) since Wednesday morning.

Otto at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center said rain records have been posted in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and as amounts are tallied through the night more will probably fall.

“It is an extremely rare event,” Otto said. “It is causing a lot of problems. The worst is happening right now.”

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