The remnants of Hurricane Ida ripped through New York, New Jersey and across the Northeast early Thursday, killing at least nine people and triggering tornadoes, thunderstorms and torrential rain that inundated streets and paralyzed transport services.
The waters swamped highways, airport terminals, baseball stadiums and subway stations. Eight people died in Brooklyn and Queens, a police spokesman said. A ninth was killed in Passaic, New Jersey, according to local news outlets. Tornadoes hit Maryland and New Jersey.
The deluge came after Ida devastated Southern Louisiana, leaving more than 1 million homes and businesses without power in a blackout that has no end in sight. It’s the latest in a string of extreme weather events around the world this year as climate change takes hold. Massive wildfires are raging in California, including one threatening Lake Tahoe. Other blazes have blackened huge swaths of Greece, Italy and Siberia. July was the hottest month on record.
The extreme rain in New York and New Jersey came because of a chance encounter that the remnants of Hurricane Ida had with the jet stream. The two came together at the hottest time of the day when the air was already quite unstable, producing enormous rainfall, said Zack Taylor, a meteorologists with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center.
Hourly rainfall rates were so heavy across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York there is only a 1% chance of them happening in any given years. In some place the deluge was so severe that it only has a 0.5% of being repeated, he said.
“It was the perfect set up for extreme rainfall, and unfortunately it happened over one of the most populous corridors of the United State,” Taylor said.
In Central Park 3.15 inches of rain fell in an hour setting a new record, Taylor said. A wide spread area from eastern Pennsylvania to southern New England, including New York, got between 6 to 8 inches in a few hours.
The storm left more 81,000 homes and businesses in the New York City region and New Jersey without power Thursday morning.
Most of the New York outages are Westchester County north of the city, according to a ConEd spokesman. Repairs to bring electricity back online were hindered by flooded roads. The 63,000 in New Jersey are primarily in the Northwest region of the state, according to Poweroutage.us, which tracks utility outages.
“It’s very dangerous. Our trucks can’t move on these roads that are blocked by floodwaters,” said Jamie McShane of ConEd. “There were cars everywhere that have been abandoned, so it’s really hard to get around.”Floodwaters in Westchester could take hours or even days to recede, McShane said. “There’s a lot of tree damage in Westchester County, but they’re not trees on the ground which is good news,” he said.
In Hoboken, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan, a state of emergency was in place, with non-essential travel restricted. Social media showed vehicles stranded in flooded intersections. In Lambertville, on the Delaware River, downtown was under water and a major flood warning remained in effect until 3 p.m. East Coast time.
The New Jersey Turnpike, a link in the East Coast’s major north-south trucking highway, said one northbound lane near Interchange 12 in Carteret remains closed due to flooding, with all southbound lanes reopened.
“Many roads remain flooded this morning,” Governor Phil Murphy said in a tweet. “It is not safe to drive.”
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority service on subway, bus and commuter rails is “largely suspended due to heavy rainfall and flooding across the region,” according to the MTA’s website.©2021 Bloomberg L.P. Visit bloomberg.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.