NYC flooding updates: Sewers can't handle torrential rain; city reels after snarled travel

New Yorkers on Saturday were reeling from one of the city's wettest days in decades, which flooded flooded subway stations, stranded dozens of buses and snarled travel in the city.

The worst was over by afternoon Saturday after some continued rainfall in the morning, and drier, sunny days were ahead, said Dan Pydynowski, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.

Parts of the city saw a record-breaking amount of rain on Friday. John F. Kennedy Airport received 8.65 inches by nightfall, a record for any September day. Some places in Brooklyn saw more than 7 inches of rain.

Photos and videos posted to social media showed cars struggling to drive through flooded out streets, water pouring into subway stations, a flooded terminal at LaGuardia Airport and basements of homes with rising water levels.

No lives have been lost because New Yorkers heeded warnings, Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a news conference Saturday.

Check back for the latest developments:

Still some flooding risk on Saturday, but dry days ahead

More rain was forecast for earlier in the day Saturday, but it was expected to be clear by night with sunny skies Sunday, the National Weather Service said.

Pydynowski told USA TODAY there isn't any more rain in the forecast until Friday, at the earliest.

The National Weather Service said a coastal flood statement was in effect through noon in Manhattan as up to 1 foot of water above ground level could be seen in "vulnerable areas" near the waterfront, causing potential brief minor flooding. Coastal flood advisories continued through Sunday for New York's Hudson and eastern Essex counties and eastern Union County in New Jersey.

"The bulk of the rain has come to an end," Pydynowski said. "The general theme for the rest of the weekend is for the threat of any kind of coastal flooding to gradually diminish."

Residents are cleaning up flooded neighborhoods

Felipe Jorge is ready to move. His house was flooded on Friday after Westchester County was slammed with torrential rain.

"I got about 5 1/2, 6 feet of water in here. My whole basement, it's all gone," he told the Rockland/Westchester Journal News, part of the USA TODAY Network.

Friday's major rain event was the latest in a string of historic floods throughout the Hudson Valley this year. Westchester County received between 3 and 6 inches of rain.

But Jorge said this is a common occurrence for his neighborhood. "Last time I lost three cars and everything. It's always the same thing," he said.

Kristen Calle lives in Blauvelt and teaches in Westchester. She said her car got stuck on the Saw Mill River Parkway coming back from her lunch break. Five people helped Calle push it to the side of the road, but she said it took two hours for a tow truck to get her car to Yonkers. She said her car was fully damaged, and she is now using a rental.

-Alexandra Rivera, Rockland/Westchester Journal News

Village of Bronxville employees hose off mud on Paxton Avenue in Bronxville Sept. 30, 2023, after heavy rains the day before.
Village of Bronxville employees hose off mud on Paxton Avenue in Bronxville Sept. 30, 2023, after heavy rains the day before.

Sewers can't handle torrential rainfall

Friday's rainfall once again highlighted city infrastructure not equipped to handle increasingly common extreme weather events. Officials said the city's sewer system isn't built to withstand the amount of rainfall seen on Friday.

"The system was designed long ago for a rainfall at the rate of 1.75 inches per hour and we're consistently getting more than that," MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said.

Hochul said some parts of the city saw up to 3 inches in an hour on Friday.

What's the role of climate change in the flooding? University of Pennsylvania meteorologist Michael Mann told USA TODAY Friday that "a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture and we see a sharp increase in the occurrence of very extreme rainfall events now in cities like New York City."

Mann also reported that Rohit Aggarwala, commissioner of environmental protection and chief climate officer for New York City, commented Thursday on the increase in extreme rainfall events with warming that the city is experiencing.

"It’s not complicated. Warmer air holds more moisture," WFLA-TV chief meteorologist Jeff Berardelli said on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, on Friday afternoon.

Subway back in service Saturday

The subway was back to full service Saturday, Hochul announced.

Virtually every subway line was at least partly suspended, rerouted or running with delays Friday. Some commuter trains were also suspended for most of the day. Over 40 of the city's thousands of buses became stranded during the day, officials said.

"Grateful to the incredible transit workers who worked quickly through the storm to get riders moving again," Hochul said.

See photos of NYC flooding

Flooding snarled transit, stranded drivers and flooded homes

Torrential rains and flooding overwhelmed roads and transit in the New York City metropolitan on Friday, triggering officials to declare states of emergency in the city, state and neighboring New Jersey.

City officials said six basement apartments were reported to be flooded, but the occupants were able to escape.

Many drivers were stranded in the rising waters, and video showed cars stuck with tire-high floodwaters. Hochul said the Swift Water and Flood Training team made 28 rescues in raging waters in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island Friday.

Even a sea lion took advantage of the flooded Central Park Zoo to briefly escape her pool enclosure.

Contributing: Doyle Rice and Dinah Voyles Pulver; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NYC flooding updates: Rain forecast, travel news, Hochul news