Hurricane Ida’s lags swept through New York, New Jersey and the northeast state early Thursday morning, triggering tornadoes, thunderstorms and torrential rains that flooded streets and crippled transportation services.
Video of the flood posted on social media showed that major roads, airport terminals, baseball stadiums and subway stations were turned into children’s pools. The New York Times reported at least eight flood-related deaths, seven in New York City and one in Passaic, New Jersey. Tornadoes hit Maryland and New Jersey, and Mayor Bill de Blasio declared an emergency for New York City, while Governor Kathy Hochul did the same for the state.
“We are enduring a historic weather event tonight with record city-wide rainfall, 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 recorded as much as 5.2 inches at 11 p.m., said Rich Otto, a meteorologist with the US Weather Prediction Center. issued emergency flash flood warnings from Delaware to Massachusetts. The New York Post reported that four people had died in Queens and Brooklyn after being trapped in their basements.
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 series of extreme weather events recorded around the world this year as the climate change takes hold. The massive wildfires raging through California have blackened large swaths of the state, western Canada and Siberia, sending smoke over the North Pole for the first time on record.
Ida crashed into Louisiana on Sunday with record winds of 150 miles per hour (241 kilometers), leaving more than 1 million customers across the South, including New Orleans, without power and killing at least five people.
The Northeast has had a particularly wet summer, with saturated soil leaving the latest rains with nowhere to go. The National Weather Service previously issued a Flash Flood Emergency for New York City and Northeast New Jersey, a rare statement that exceeds a warning designation. The service said it is the first time it has shipped one to the region.
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 was maintained for much of Long Island.
De Blasio said bridges and tunnels remained open, but roads were flooded around the city, with only the tops of a few cars poking out. The city’s police and fire departments are standing by to help if needed, de Blasio said in an interview on local news station NY1. “The part that worries me especially is the people who travel.”
The city’s subway system experienced severe service limitations when water poured into Manhattan’s underground platforms. Three branches of the Metro North Rail Road, which connects to the northern suburbs, have been suspended, said Tim Minton, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the city’s buses, subway and commuter rail lines. Long Island Rail Road train service is suspended on all lines between Penn Station and Jamaica and between Atlantic Terminal and Jamaica.
In addition to ground travel, 392 flights were canceled at Newark Liberty International Airport at 11:30 p.m., according to Flight Aware, an airline tracking service. The airport received 6.42 inches of rain in the three hours ending at 9:51 p.m., roughly the equivalent of seven weeks of average rain falling in a few hours, said National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Lamers.
In 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 blackout map.
Some customers could see power restored Thursday morning, while other areas may take a day or two, said Jamie McShane, a spokesman for ConEd.