NEW YORK – Life-threatening flash flooding is pummeling the New York City area Friday as remnants of Tropical Storm Ophelia lash the already heavily saturated region with several inches of rain in mere hours.
All of New York City’s five boroughs were under Flash Flood Warnings Friday, as torrential rains flooded streets and subway stations, causing massive system-side disruptions to rail and bus services. Impacts were especially felt in Brooklyn, where nearly 7 inches of rain had already fallen by midday.
“I want to say to all New Yorkers, this is time for heightened alertness and extreme caution,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams warned. “If you are home, stay home. If you are at work or school, shelter in place. For now, some of our subways are flooded, and it’s extremely difficult to move around the city.”
Widespread rain totals of 3 to 5 inches are expected throughout New York City, Long Island and Hudson Valley, with locally higher amounts up to 7 inches of rain. New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a State of Emergency across New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley due to the extreme rainfall.
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The FOX Forecast Center said rainfall rates in some storms are reaching 2 inches per hour or more. Officials in New York City said the subway system can only handle a maximum of 1 inch of rainfall per hour, and flooding may occur if it exceeds 1.5 inches – criteria easily met on Friday.
“Heavy rain will inundate transportation systems and likely cause flash flooding in some areas today,” New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said. “This means that it will be dangerous to travel, especially by car.”
Fairfield, New Jersey police illustrated one such example of the perils of driving Friday by showing one of their officers rescuing a driver who became stranded in feet of floodwaters.
Others who ventured out onto the roads found several prominent highways and parkways closed due to floodwaters. In Brooklyn, multiple cars were stranded with water up to their windows on Prospect Expressway. The NWS reported closures along the Hutchison River Parkway, Bronx Run Parkway, Major Deegan Expressway, Grand Central Parkway, and even part of the FDR Drive due to floodwaters.
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It wasn’t just those traveling by trains and automobiles affected by rising waters. Parking lots and ramps were flooded at LaGuardia Airport, shutting down access to Terminal A. The airport said their airport fuel farm was also unreachable due to floods.
Currently, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said flights are still arriving and departing at area airports, although intermittent ground stops are likely as heavy rain continues lashing the region.
“Airport staff is continuously monitoring the runways, roadways and terminals and will immediately activate water pumps if necessary,” the FAA said. “Flooding may impact the roadways surrounding the airports and police will redirect traffic. Travelers should leave ample time when heading to the airports.”
New York Public Schools remained in session Friday and officials expressed confidence they would be able to get students home safely.
“We have been in touch with all vendors, and have not heard of major issues so far,” said New York Public Schools Press Secretary Nathaniel Styer. “We are asking bus companies to leave early for pickup, and as always, to take all safety precautions.”
Styer said a portion of the city’s schools took in water, “but nothing has impacted their ability to safely educate students. Our schools have safety plans in place and prepare for days like today.”
The tri-state area, which includes New Jersey and Connecticut, is currently facing a flood threat that has resulted in flood alerts for 25.1 million people. As of Friday morning, some areas have already experienced 4-6 inches of rain, with more storms expected to come in the following hours.
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An entire fleet of emergency trucks, deployable pumps and other equipment are on standby for a city that depends on the rails. Bus routes, bridges and tunnels are also being monitored closely. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the subway system, has activated its 24-hour situation room.
There is currently a travel advisory in effect by the New York City Emergency Management that will last until 6 a.m. on Saturday. The persistent rainstorm in the country’s biggest city has been ongoing for over 70 hours, which has contributed to the problem.
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Coastal flooding alerts stretch hundreds of miles
Concerns about coastal flooding conditions are present all along the Atlantic seaboard, reaching as far as the Carolinas and Florida. These issues include persistent winds, residual energy from the recent tropical storm, and a particularly problematic factor: the full moon, which results in king tides.
Be sure to download the free FOX Weather app and enable notifications to be sent an alert if warnings are issued in your area.
Source: Fox News