New York City, Long Island under state of emergency due to torrential rainfall

New York City, Long Island under state of emergency due to torrential rainfall

A potent rush-hour rainstorm swamped the New York metropolitan area on Friday, shutting down parts of the city's subway system, flooding streets and highways, and delaying flights into LaGuardia Airport.

Up to 13 centimetres of rain fell in some areas overnight, and as much as 18 centimetres more was expected throughout the day, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

"This is a dangerous, life-threatening storm," Hochul said in an interview with TV station NY1. "Count on this for the next 20 hours."

Hochul declared a state of emergency for New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley.

A sidewalk scene is shown with workers trying to stem flooding as residents watch on stoops.
Residents watch as workers attempt to clear a drain in flood waters on Friday in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Jake Offenhartz/The Associated Press)

Traffic was at a standstill, with water above cars' tires, on a stretch of the FDR Drive — a major artery along the east side of Manhattan. Some drivers abandoned their vehicles.

Priscilla Fontallio said she had been stranded in her car, which was on a piece of the highway that wasn't flooded but wasn't moving, for three hours.

"Never seen anything like this in my life," she said.

Photos and video posted on social media showed water pouring into subway stations and basements.

Transit delays, cancellations

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs subway and commuter rail lines, urged residents of the nation's most populous city to stay home if they could. Virtually every subway line was at least partly suspended, rerouted or running with delays, and two of the Metro-North Railroad's three main lines were suspended.

Flights into LaGuardia were briefly halted, and then delayed, Friday morning because of water in the airport's refuelling area. Flooding also forced the closure of one of the airport's three terminals.

WATCH l Canada has a patchwork of flood maps, but good luck finding them:

Better flood maps could save lives. Why are they so hard to find?

3 days ago

Duration 5:49

Flood risk maps help identify safe ground during a storm or flood and lay out where to avoid building, but they’re not readily available. CBC’s Tom Murphy breaks down why the maps are so hard to find.

Towns and cities around New York City also experienced flooding, including Hoboken in bordering New Jersey.

The deluge came less than three months after a storm caused deadly floods in New York's Hudson Valley and left Vermont's capital, Montpelier, submerged. A little over two years ago, the remnants of Hurricane Ida dropped record-breaking rain on the Northeast and killed at least 13 people in New York City, most of whom were in flooded basement apartments. Overall, 50 people died from Virginia to Connecticut.

A man in a cap up to his knees in water is shown on a street next to a partially submerged vehicle.
A man carries his belongings as he abandons his vehicle, which stalled in floodwaters Friday in the New York City suburb of Mamaroneck in Westchester County. (Mike Segar)

Hochul warned New Yorkers on Thursday of rainfall amounts on "a scale that we're not accustomed to dealing with," adding that New Yorkers "have to get used to this" because of climate change.

As the planet warms, storms are forming in a hotter atmosphere, making extreme rainfall more frequent, according to atmospheric scientists.