NEW YORK (Reuters) – More than two months worth of rain fell in two hours in New York’s Long Island suburbs on Wednesday, causing flash flooding and swamping cars on major roads that were turned into rivers during the morning rush hour.
A total of 13.26 inches (33 cm) was measured at Long Island’s MacArthur Airport in Islip, setting a preliminary statewide record for the most rainfall in one area in a 24-hour period, said Christopher Vaccaro, spokesman for the National Weather Service. The last such record of 11.6 inches (29 cm) was set in August 2011 in a Tannersville village during tropical storm Irene.
“Wow, they had more than two months of rainfall in two hours,” Vaccaro said. “It’s really quite a dangerous situation. Heavy rainfall coupled with the morning commute is a problem.”
Parts of major commuter routes including the Long Island Expressway, the Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway, the Sunrise Highway and other roadways were closed due to flooding, police said. A train station parking lot was covered with at least two feet (61 cm) of water and multiple cars had been submerged up to their windows. Fire department boats were being deployed for rescue operations, according to National Weather Service reports.
The downpour also hit parts of states surrounding New York, including southeastern Connecticut, which received about 7 inches (18 cm) of rain by just after 8 a.m., and isolated parts of New Jersey, with about 2.5 inches (5 cm) by morning.
Residents of Millville, New Jersey, were evacuated from a home when it partially collapsed due to flooding, local media reported.
Flash flood warnings for Long Island were lifted in the morning but the warnings remained in effect in southeastern Connecticut due to continued rainfall, Vaccaro said.
The weather system, which was the same one that drenched Washington and Baltimore on Tuesday, did not appear to have caused any injuries, Vaccaro said.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Laila Kearney; Editing by Bill Trott)