Parts of New York see wettest day on record as life-threatening flooding submerges subways, streets

All of New York City's five boroughs were under Flash Flood Warnings Friday, as torrential rains flooded streets and subway stations, causing massive system-side disruptions. Impacts were especially felt in Brooklyn, where more 6 inches of rain fell.

New York City is now cleaning up after one of their rainiest days in history. Continuing coverage can now be found at this link.

NEW YORK – Widespread flash flooding pummeled the New York City metro area Friday as remnants of Tropical Storm Ophelia lashed the already heavily saturated region with several inches of rain in mere hours, grinding the nation's largest city to a halt and setting JFK Airport's all-time rain record in the process. 

All of New York City's five boroughs suffered flooded streets and subway stations, causing massive system-side disruptions to rail and bus services. Impacts were especially felt in Brooklyn, where nearly 7 inches of rain had fallen by midday. 

"I want to say to all New Yorkers, this is time for heightened alertness and extreme caution," New York City Mayor Eric Adams warned Friday morning. "If you are home, stay home. If you are at work or school, shelter in place. For now, some of our subways are flooded, and it’s extremely difficult to move around the city."

Friday's deluge dropped 8.05 inches of rain at JFK Aiport, making it the wettest day on record, beating Hurricane Irene's daily record set back on Aug. 14, 2011, the National Weather Service said.

Widespread rain totals of 4 to 6 inches were New York City, Long Island and Hudson Valley, with locally higher amounts in excess of 7 inches of rain. New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a State of Emergency across the same areas due to the extreme rainfall.


The FOX Forecast Center said rainfall rates in some storms reached more than 2 inches per hour or more. Officials in New York City said the subway system can only handle a maximum of 1 inch of rainfall per hour, and flooding may occur if it exceeds 1.5 inches - criteria easily met on Friday.

"Heavy rain will inundate transportation systems and likely cause flash flooding in some areas today," New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said. "This means that it will be dangerous to travel, especially by car."

Fairfield, New Jersey police illustrated one such example of the perils of driving Friday by showing one of their officers rescuing a driver who became stranded in feet of floodwaters.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a State of Emergency Friday for the Garden State as areas from Manasquan to Newark saw several inches of rain.

Several water rescues had taken as of Friday afternoon, but there were no reports of any significant injuries or missing people associated with the weather event.

Others who ventured out onto the roads found several prominent highways and parkways closed due to floodwaters. In Brooklyn, multiple cars were stranded with water up to their windows on Prospect Expressway.  The NWS reported closures along the Hutchison River Parkway, Bronx Run Parkway, Major Deegan Expressway, Grand Central Parkway, and even part of the FDR Drive due to floodwaters.

Landslides with mud were also reported by emergency management in the hillier terrain of Lower Westchester.


It wasn't just those traveling by trains and automobiles affected by rising waters. Parking lots and ramps were flooded at LaGuardia Airport, shutting down access to Terminal A. The airport said their airport fuel farm was also unreachable due to floods.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said flights were still arriving and departing at area airports, although intermittent ground stops are likely as heavy rain continues lashing the region.

"Airport staff is continuously monitoring the runways, roadways and terminals and will immediately activate water pumps if necessary," the FAA said. "Flooding may impact the roadways surrounding the airports and police will redirect traffic. Travelers should leave ample time when heading to the airports."

New York Public Schools remained in session Friday and officials expressed confidence they would be able to get students home safely.

"We have been in touch with all vendors, and have not heard of major issues so far," said New York Public Schools Press Secretary Nathaniel Styer. "We are asking bus companies to leave early for pickup, and as always, to take all safety precautions."

The community of Valley Stream on Long Island and JFK Airport reported the highest rainfall totals with between 8-10 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Many other observation sites around New York City reported at least 7" of rain.


Here's a look at the top rain reports over the past 24 hours.
(FOX Weather)


An entire fleet of emergency trucks, deployable pumps and other equipment are on standby for a city that depends on the rails. Bus routes, bridges and tunnels are also being monitored closely. New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the subway system, has activated its 24-hour situation room.