The New York City area was under a state of emergency on Thursday after the remnants of Hurricane Ida barreled into the region with furious, wind-driven rain that led to at least eight deaths and all but halted subway service, destroyed homes in New Jersey and resulted in a tornado warning for the Bronx.
The rain on Wednesday night — 3.1 inches in Central Park in an hour — shattered a record set only last week, when 1.94 inches of rain fell in the park during Tropical Storm Henri. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency in New York City for the first time.
At least eight deaths were reported from the flooding, seven in New York City and one in Passaic, N.J.
The victims in New York, whose names were not released, were located in four different scenes throughout the city, and ranged in ages from 2 years old to 66, according to the New York Police Department. Official causes of death will be determined later by the city’s medical examiner, the department said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency just before 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, saying New York City was “enduring a historic weather event” with “record breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads.” He warned New Yorkers: “Stay inside.”
The city, which issued a travel ban overnight, urged all non-emergency vehicles to stay off roads and highways on Thursday.
Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey also declared a state of emergency late Wednesday night and asked residents to “stay off the roads, stay home, and stay safe.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority advised customers in an email alert late Wednesday: “Train service is extremely limited, if not even suspended, because of heavy rainfall and flooding across the region.” The transit system’s website showed service was suspended across more than 18 subway lines.
All New Jersey rail service, with the exception of the Atlantic City line, was suspended, New Jersey Transit said.
At Newark Liberty International Airport, 3.24 inches of rain were recorded between 8 and 9 p.m., the Weather Service said. The airport said in a statement on Twitter that it was experiencing “severe flooding,” confirming videos posted on social media that showed deep water pooling inside.
“All flight activity is currently suspended & travelers are strongly advised to contact their airline for the latest flight & service resumption information,” the statement said. “Passengers are being diverted from ground-level flooded areas.”
Some flights resumed about 90 minutes later, the airport said.
In Passaic, at least one person was believed to have died after being trapped in a car in the rising floodwaters, Mayor Hector C. Lora said in an interview. The authorities were preparing to evacuate residents in part of the city, after the Passaic River breached its banks and caused significant flooding downtown.
Around 9 p.m., the Weather Service issued a tornado warning for parts of the Bronx, after radar indicated a tornado had formed in the area.
The flash flood emergency issued by the Weather Service was more severe than a flash flood watch or even a flash flood warning. The agency defines such emergencies as “exceedingly rare situations when extremely heavy rain is leading to a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage,” typically with “life-threatening water rises resulting in water rescues/evacuations.”
At times, strong wind gusts blew the rain sideways, enough to delay a U.S. Open match at Louis Armstrong Stadium in Queens on Wednesday night, as rain made its way into the stadium in spite of its roof.
The storm system, advancing on a path to southern New England, brought drenching rain that could lead to life-threatening flooding, meteorologists said.
As the stormy weather moved northeast on Wednesday, it prompted a string of tornado warnings across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
Early Thursday morning, about 100,000 customers in Pennsylvania, 63,000 in New Jersey and 50,000 in New York were without power, according to reports compiled by PowerOutage.us.
The storm, which hit Louisiana on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Reporting was contributed by Anne Barnard, Isabella Grullón Paz, Matthew Haag, Jesus Jiménez, Michael Levenson, Eduardo Medina, Azi Paybarah, Derrick Bryson Taylor and Ashley Wong.
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