After a week of devastating, heavy rainfall and consequential floods, New York has been under direct attack from the climate crisis, officials say.
A flooding catastrophe gripped New York City, and a city official squarely placed the blame on the climate crisis.
The dire situation happened due to a large storm system that settled over the region on Thursday night.
The five boroughs of New York, parts of upstate New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut were all under flood watches and warnings as the storm raged on.
Relentless rainfall battered the city, disrupting the Friday morning rush hour commute and bringing life to a standstill.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul swiftly declared a state of emergency as the deluge submerged highways halted the subway system, and even flooded a terminal at LaGuardia.
“Shelter In Place”
Mayor Eric Adams urged New Yorkers to stay home or “shelter in place” as the city faced the prospect of up to eight inches of rain, but people were adamant that Adams’ warning was “Too little too late.”
Meteorologists cautioned that the ongoing flooding could be historic, with rainfall pouring down at a rate of one to 2.5 inches per hour in some areas.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard, for instance, received 2.58 inches of rain in just one hour, far surpassing the city’s infrastructure capabilities.
Rohit Aggarwala, Commissioner of New York’s Department of Environmental Protection, affirmed that the flooding crisis is a direct result of climate change, “Our climate is changing faster than our infrastructure can respond.”
Alarming Record Breaking
Friday saw an alarming record broken, becoming the wettest September day on record at JFK Airport.
A staggering 6.08 inches of rain had fallen since midnight, surpassing the previous record set by Hurricane Donna in 1960.
In a hotter world, storms carry more moisture, leading to a higher probability of intense rainfall, such as the one New York just experienced.
The Northeastern United States has witnessed a 55% increase in the volume of rain during very heavy events from 1958 to 2016, primarily due to the human-induced climate crisis.
Global warming amplifies ocean heat, supercharging storms and prolonging their duration while intensifying rainfall.
Storm Surges, a Real Threat
This phenomenon has a direct connection to the escalating climate crisis driven by fossil fuel emissions.
The latest UN climate report highlights a 30% increase globally in the frequency of “1-in-10 year” extreme rainfall events.
Climate change, compounded by rising sea levels, poses a severe threat, especially concerning storm surges.
Governor Kathy Hochul’s immediate declaration of a state of emergency encompassing New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley underscores the severity of the situation.
Basements and Sewers
Officials are particularly worried about residents in basement properties facing heightened risks during this weather crisis.
The outdated 120-year-old sewer system struggled to cope with the deluge and needs urgent upgrading to match the changing climate patterns.
The infrastructure is no longer sufficient to handle the increasing intensity of storms.
The subway system, a lifeline for New Yorkers, ground to a halt as water inundated tunnels and tracks.
With highways submerged and critical transportation services paralyzed, the flooding crisis has been a wake-up call exposing the vulnerability of the city’s infrastructure.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / MISHELLA