On Friday, New York City’s sewer system was overwhelmed by record-breaking rain, causing a flood of floodwater to surge through the streets and into basements, schools, subways, and vehicles across the nation’s most populous city.

The water rose rapidly and violently, catching numerous commuters off guard on Friday morning as they slogged through rush hour. Rescuers rushed to the scene, rescuing people from stranded cars and basements that were filling up like bathtubs.

Rain fell nearly 8 inches in a single day at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, the most in a single day since 1948. Brooklyn was battered by some of the storm’s most severe rainfall rates Friday morning, receiving a month’s worth of rain in only three hours.

According to scientists, the high totals are a result of climate change, with a warmer atmosphere acting like a giant sponge, soaking up more water vapor and then wringing it out in powerful spurts that can quickly overwhelm archaic flood defenses.

“Overall, as we know, this changing weather pattern is the result of climate change,” said Rohit Aggarwala, Chief Climate Officer for New York City, at a news conference on Friday morning. “And the sad reality is our climate is changing faster than our infrastructure can respond.”
By late Friday afternoon, New York City had received 3 to 6 inches of rain. More rain was anticipated to fall throughout the evening before stopping gradually.

On Friday morning, as the worst of the flooding hit, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul issued an emergency declaration for New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley.. She urged residents to stay at home in an interview with WNBC-TV in New York, citing widespread dangerous traffic conditions.

“This is a very challenging weather event,” Hochul said. “This is a potentially fatal event,” he says, “and I need all New Yorkers to heed that warning so that we can keep them safe.” On Friday afternoon, Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey proclaimed a state of emergency in his state..

Firefighters rescued people from six flooded basements in New York City, according to the New York City Fire Department.
According to New York City School Chancellor David Banks, the water also made its way inside 150 of the city’s 1,400 schools, which remained open on Friday.

One school in Brooklyn, he claims, was evacuated after floodwater caused the boiler to smoke.

“Our kids are safe and we continue to monitor the situation,” Banks said.

Floodwater flooded subways and rails, creating “major disruptions,” including the suspension of service on all 10 Brooklyn train lines and all three Metro-North train lines. Governor Hochul declared that the city would be deploying more buses to help fill the gap caused by the rail outages.

Where Rain Is Expected This Week

The total amount of rain and other precipitation forecast in the next seven days.

By Friday evening, little service had been restored on the Metro-North lines. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority entirely restored service on seven subway lines by Friday evening, according to Demetrius Crichlow, senior vice president of the New York City Transit Department of Subways.

“Today was just not an easy day for us but like New Yorkers, we are resilient, we continue to press on,” Crichlow said.

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said Friday evening that one of Metro-North Railroad’s three lines, the Hudson line, had been restored to service, and that the Long Island Railroad had also been restored. The MTA announced on Friday night that it is attempting to restore limited service to the remaining two lines.
Traveling by plane was not much better.

Flights were delayed at all three New York City area airports on Friday. Flooding prompted the closure of New York’s LaGuardia Airport’s historic Marine Air Terminal. The airport’s smallest terminal, which serves Spirit and Frontier airlines, reopened late Friday.

Flood warnings had been lifted across the region by late Friday, with the exception of Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, and parts of northern and southern Connecticut, where warnings were forecast to stay in effect until Saturday morning.

Unprecedented rains
Extreme rainfall rates produced enormous totals:

  • According to National Weather Service data, up to 4.5 inches of rain fell in three hours in Brooklyn on Friday morning. This three-hour rainfall total is only expected once every 100 years in Brooklyn, according to NOAA.
  • In Manhattan, Central Park received almost 2 inches of rain in one hour, making it the second-wettest hour in the park’s history. More than 5 inches of rain have fallen there so far.
  • In Queens, the wettest day on record at John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to preliminary National Weather Service data. At least 7.88 inches of rain has poured there since midnight.

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