Flash flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida killed at least 44 people in the New York area overnight into Thursday, including several who perished in basements during the “historic” weather event officials blamed on climate change.
Record rainfall, which prompted an unprecedented flash flood emergency warning for New York City, turned streets into rivers and shut down subway services as water cascaded down platforms onto tracks.
Streets and subway tunnels turned into rivers: Dozens of people were killed after the remnants of Hurricane Ida hit New York and the US northeast on September 1. pic.twitter.com/Bv75RzxSPr
— South China Morning Post (@SCMPNews) September 3, 2021
Flooding closed major roads across New Jersey and New York boroughs including Manhattan, The Bronx and Queens, submerging cars and forcing the fire department to rescue hundreds of people.
At least 23 people died in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy told reporters.
“The majority of these deaths were individuals who got caught in their vehicles,” he said.
Flooding killed at least 40 people in the Northeast as remnants of Hurricane Ida unleashed torrential rains that swept away cars, submerged New York City subway lines and grounded airline flights, officials said pic.twitter.com/ulumJf6kgj
— Reuters (@Reuters) September 3, 2021
Thirteen died in New York City, including 11 who could not escape their basements, police said. The victims ranged from the ages of two to 86.
Ida blazed a trail of destruction in New York
Three also died in the New York suburb of Westchester, while another four died in Montgomery County outside Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, a local official confirmed.
this flooding in New York is wild – there's a "flash flood emergency", the first one ever in NYC, with something like 10cm in rain an hour from Hurricane Ida. Much of the city seems like it's underwaterpic.twitter.com/Vyes4KcCdG
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) September 2, 2021
Ida blazed a trail of destruction north after slamming into Louisiana over the weekend, bringing severe flooding and tornadoes.
“We’re enduring an historic weather event tonight with record-breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said late Wednesday.
Hurricane Ida: “Global warming is upon us”
State emergencies were declared in New York and New Jersey while the National Weather Service issued its first-ever emergency flash flood warning for New York City, urging residents to move to higher ground.
By Thursday evening, around 38,000 homes in Pennsylvania, 24,000 in New Jersey and 12,000 in New York were without power, according to the website poweroutage.us, a significant decrease from earlier in the day.
It is rare for such storms to strike America’s northeastern seaboard and comes as the surface layer of oceans warms due to climate change.
The warming is causing cyclones to become more powerful and carry more water, posing an increasing threat to the world’s coastal communities, scientists say.
“Global warming is upon us and it’s going to get worse and worse and worse unless we do something about it,” said Democratic senator Chuck Schumer.
The repetitive, unprecedented flooding of our subways & streets highlights the urgent need for big, bold infrastructure legislation to build resilience & fight climate change by reducing carbon pollution@SenateDems' budget resolution will enable us to take this big, bold action
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 2, 2021
Globally, extreme rainfall events are becoming more common because of human-caused global warming. Across continental US, specifically, the heaviest downpours have been observed to be increasing in all regions, with the northeast showing the largest increase, according to the US National Climate Assessment.
“Warmer air can contain more water vapor than cooler air. Global analyses show that the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere has in fact increased over both land and oceans,” the report says.