Rising Waters: The Increasing Frequency of Severe Rainfall in NYC

Written by: Khethiwe Joyce

On Friday, there was heavy rainfall in New York City. The city’s vital public services, including the Subway and commuter railways, were forced to shut down, severely disrupting daily commuting for thousands. The situation worsened as flooding closed major streets and highways, with even LaGuardia Airport succumbing to the rising water. The governor, Kathy Hochul, said the rainfall measured 13 centimeters, and there was more expected – up to 18 centimeters in a single day. This was a lot more rain than the city had ever seen in September since way back in 1960, as reported by the National Weather Service. The city had to deal with a lot of difficulties because of this heavy rainfall, affecting how people moved around and the usual services they relied on.

New York City’s Vulnerabilities: Highlighting the City’s Challenges in Dealing with Heavy Rainfall and Flooding

Traffic came to a complete stop on a busy road in Manhattan called the FDR Drive. The water was so high that it covered the tires of cars. Some people left their cars because they couldn’t move.

 “I was stuck in my car for three hours by 11 a.m.” cried one of the commuters. The part of the road her car was on wasn’t flooded, “the traffic was just on standstill” she cried, adding that she had never seen such her entire life.

Residents wade through knee-deep water in the aftermath of the heavy rainfall, highlighting the challenges faced by New York City’s residents during extreme weather events.

What you should Know -Transportation Woes: Floods and the City’s

The recent storm triggered terrifying memories for many as it reminded them of the destruction caused by Hurricane Ida just two years ago. Once again, New York City was hit by a fierce storm, which exposed the city’s susceptibility to extreme weather conditions as a result of climate change. Heavy rainfall, with up to 2.5 inches per hour, led to closed roads, submerged vehicles, stranded buses, and disrupted public transportation. Despite the lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy, the city’s efforts to build resilience are still inadequate, highlighting the pressing need for improved infrastructure to withstand these increasingly severe weather events.

Joy Wong, who lost neighbors, including a toddler, to Ida, was frightened as water started reaching her front door in Woodside, Queens. Wong couldn’t leave her home because the area outside was flooded like a lake. Within moments, water-filled her building’s basement, which had been turned into a recreation room after the tragedy in 2021, destroying it.

Though there were reports of flooded basements on Friday, everyone managed to escape safely, according to city officials. Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams declared emergencies, advising people to stay home. Despite this, schools were open, students attended classes, and many adults went to work, worrying about how they would return.

The storm severely disrupted transportation. Almost all subway lines faced suspensions, reroutes, or delays. Metro-North rail service was suspended, but it slowly resumed in the evening. As per transit officials, the Long Island Railroad experienced significant delays, 44 buses were stranded out of 3,500, and bus services across the city were disrupted.

Commute Impact of Severe Weather: Lessons from Recent Heavy Rainfall

In simple terms, New York City is facing big problems because of increasingly severe weather caused by climate change. The recent heavy rainfall and flooding showed that the city’s systems are not prepared for these challenges. While there have been improvements since past disasters, the city’s old infrastructure needs a major upgrade. Investing in new and sustainable technologies is crucial and ensuring emergency services are ready for such situations is crucial.