De Blasio warns on flash floods Thursday into Friday

Mayor Bill de Blasio cautioned New Yorkers to be “vigilant” about upcoming heavy rainfall Thursday, after the remnants of Hurricane Ida caught officials and residents off guard, wreaking havoc on the tri-state region.

“We’re putting people on alert to be vigilant all day,” de Blasio said during his daily press briefing, held remotely from Queens Borough Hall.

De Blasio stressed he is being overly cautious about what would likely be a “limited storm” and it’s “better to be safe [than] sorry” because forecasts don’t always prove accurate.

“The real concern here is the roads that are prone to flooding,” the mayor explained. “We know how dangerous that can be. Listen for the updates, adjust your plans, [and] exercise caution.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers to be on the alert for potential flash flooding as heavy rainfall approaches the city.
Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The warning came after the National Weather Service forecast rain and scattered thunderstorms citywide, beginning Thursday afternoon and ending Friday morning. A flash flood warning is in effect from 4 p.m. Thursday until 8 a.m. Friday, according to the NWS.

Between 1 and 1.5 inches of rain per hour is expected to fall between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, de Blasio warned. But there is a 50 percent chance of 1 inch of rain falling in one hour, said the mayor, citing the NWS forecast.

Three times as much rain came pouring down onto city streets per hour during the Sept. 1 storm, but 1 inch in an hour could still “cause real problems,” he said.

“This is much, much less than what we’ve seen with Ida, but we want to be very careful after everything that people have been through,” said de Blasio.

Flooding on an expressway in Brooklyn after the remnants of Hurricane Ida hit New York City on September 2, 2021.
Flooding on an expressway in Brooklyn after the remnants of Hurricane Ida hit New York City on September 2, 2021.
Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

Heavy rain and thunderstorms are most likely from 6 p.m. Thursday through 2 a.m. Friday, according to the city’s emergency management department.

“The city is still working to recover [from] Ida, and we want to ensure that New Yorkers are ready. New Yorkers should prepare for possible thunderstorms that can cause strong wind gusts and moderate rainfall,” the city’s emergency management commissioner John Scrivani said in a press release. “New Yorkers should give themselves additional travel time and take the appropriate precautions if they must move about the city during the storm.”

A flooded subway station in Manhattan after the heavy rainfall on September 2, 2021.
A flooded subway station in Manhattan after the heavy rainfall on Sept. 2, 2021.
Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

For New Yorkers who live in basement apartments, de Blasio advised, “please be ready to get to higher ground if this storm is worse than what’s projected now.”

A total of 13 people died during flooding from the tempest earlier this month, including 11 who drowned after they were trapped in basement apartments.

At least 52 people have been confirmed dead from the monster storm, which caused at least $50 million in damage to New York, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Flooding seen on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills after Ida.
Flooding on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills after Ida.
UCG/Universal Images Group via G
New York City Parks Security Service officers on horseback wading through flooding in Central Park on September 2, 2021.
New York City Parks Security Service officers on horseback wading through flooding in Central Park on September 2, 2021.
Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

De Blasio has faced criticism about why the city was underprepared for the downpour, even as the National Weather Service warned of “life-threatening flash flooding” more than five hours before Ida began falling in the tri-state region.

Following the storm, the mayor and other Empire State politicians pledged to better prepare the state for future extreme weather events.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently called on Congress to spend $33 million on upgrading the systems that help forecasters predict extreme weather.