As the rain kept pouring and the puddles became floods, a flash flood emergency was issued for New York City for the first time.
“This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation,” the National Weather Service in New York said when it issued the bulletin at about 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday. “Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order.”
The emergency was a first for New York City, and only the second time the Weather Service in New York has had to issue one. The first one was issued just an hour earlier for the northeast New Jersey area.
The flash flood emergency issued by the National Weather Service was more severe than a flash flood watch or even a flash flood warning. The agency defines such emergencies as “exceedingly rare situations when extremely heavy rain is leading to a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage,” typically with “life-threatening water rises resulting in water rescues/evacuations.”
The area experienced historic rainfall amounts that prompted the dire warning. In a statement, the Weather Service said such “life threatening flash flooding” was possible at low-water crossings, small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses.
During the night, the Weather Service said it had recorded rainfall rates of at least three to five inches an hour in northeast New Jersey and portions of New York City.
In Central Park, 3.15 inches of rain fell in from 8:51 p.m. to 9:51 p.m., shattering the record set only last week, when 1.94 inches of rain fell in the park in an hour during Tropical Storm Henri.
At Newark Liberty International Airport, 3.24 inches of rain were recorded between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., the Weather Service said.