Weather: Flooding in New York City has left weather experts with a terrible feeling in their stomachs


“As you see it unfold, you are just grabbed by this growing pit in your stomach when you look at this data on your screen and it continues to add to something very serious going on,” said Alex Lamers, meteorologist at the Weather Prediction Center. .

It wasn’t because the forecast was a failure. In fact, the forecast was correct. Three days in advance, the forecasting center monitored the potential for major flooding. He called last Wednesday a “high risk” day of extreme precipitation. This only happens about 4% of the time, so these days are taken seriously by the weather community.

Lamers was at the prediction center that day, watching it descend in real time. So I (Jennifer Gray) decided to call her up and get her take on what happened that day.

“As the day progressed there was just growing concern. As things started to fall into place and see how the storm would likely continue and the possibility of it moving up to the highway to (New York), and that’s what happened, “Lamers says.

While the precipitation totals were staggering, what was even more astonishing was the speed at which the rain fell.

“The fact that you had these extreme rainfall rates lining up over this densely populated area is why it happened that way,” Lamers said.

So much rain in such a short time is what ultimately led to disaster.

It’s one thing to have an inch of rain during the day; It’s another to see that inch drop in 10 minutes. Predicting exactly where the heaviest rain bands will occur is impossible for a few hours, and seeing them take hold in a city as populated as New York was shocking.

“I think what strikes me are the higher rainfall rates which are a perfect match for one of the most densely populated cities in the country. Twenty to 30 miles can make a huge difference. JFK was less than 3 inches tall. , while Newark had over 9, ”Lamers said, referring to two major airports.

Near Elizabeth, New Jersey, more than 10 inches of rain were reported. More than three 3s of rain have fallen in Central Park in just a time.

“There were exceptional rain rates. There was one sighting in the Bronx with 4 inches of rain in an hour. Four inches of rain in an hour is going to cause problems in most places. Of course, that will be. much greater impact in an area that is paved with a lot of concrete than sandy soil, ”Lamers said.

And we saw the result. Streets and houses were flooded, people got stuck in their cars. The main highways were flooded almost to the viaducts above.
Water rushed into the subways and people had to be rescued from their rooftops. And the nightmare did not end with the rain. More than a dozen tornadoes have also been reported in many of these same areas. At least 46 people died in Ida’s second punch that hit the east.

It was a devastating day, caused by a storm that caused damage and tears to the Gulf Coast to the northeast. Ida’s path stretched for 1,500 miles.

This is something that could become a new normal, with climate change.

“If you look at the recent report (of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and the most recent climate report, both concluded that there have been observable increases with the intensity and frequency of intense precipitation. This increase is expected to continue in a warming world. Because of the rule of thumb that warmer air on average can hold more water vapor, ”Lamers said.

Lamers encourages people to be ready if there is another “high riskPlan ahead as you would if your area received tornado surveillance. Be vigilant.
Try not to take the road unless absolutely necessary. He says 2 out of 3 people who die in floods die in their cars. And of course, never drive by flooded waters.

“I think we’re going to face extreme rainfall events for the foreseeable future, and we’re going to do our best to equip people as best we can to make decisions when there is an extreme rain event in. the horizon, ”Lamers said.

In images, in pictures: Ida’s remains smash the northeast

More flooding and extreme heat impact those affected by Ida

A heat advisory and flash flood watch was issued Monday for areas of Louisiana and Mississippi that are still recovering from Hurricane Ida.
Residents along the Gulf Coast will continue the cleanup this week after the devastation left by Ida. Unfortunately, more rain and extreme heat are expected this week.

More than 2 million people are under flash flood watch as slow storms could bring 2-3 inches of rain in a short time. This includes New Orleans, as well as some of the hardest hit areas such as Houma and LaPlace.

Heat will also be an issue this week on the hard-hit Gulf Coast, where a heat advisory is in place for nearly 3 million people.

More than half a million people still have no electricity, and many of them are under this notice of heat. Heat index values ​​could reach as high as 100-105 on Monday.

The National Weather Service encourages residents to “take extra care when working or spending time outdoors. If possible, reschedule strenuous activities early in the morning or evening.” In fact, the weather service lowered the threshold for a heat advisory because so many people are without power.

While the cleanup is in progress, many people might find themselves overworking and then not having a cool place to cool off.

It is important to try not to get too hot or to find a cooling center nearby to find relief. Heat is, on average, the cause of the greatest number of weather-related deaths, according to to the weather service.

Learn more about Ida:

Peak hurricane season

This week marks the peak of hurricane season in the Atlantic, and the tropics are active, with Hurricane Larry smack in the middle of the Atlantic and a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico.
Let’s start with Larry. In case you missed it, Larry developed at the start of last week, becoming a tropical storm Wednesday and a hurricane The next day.
Hurricane Larry then quickly escalated – when a storm increased wind speed by 30 mph in 24 hours or less – in a major hurricane category 3 From Thursday evening to Friday. This made Larry the third major hurricane of the season, after Grace and Ida.
Today, Larry retains its Category 3 major hurricane status as it traverses the open waters of the Atlantic.

Fortunately, Larry should not make landfall, but it generates large swells that impact the Lesser Antilles, Bahamas and Bermuda.

These heavy swells are expected to hit the US east coast and Atlantic Canada by mid-week. “These swells are likely to cause life-threatening waves and rip current conditions ”, the National Hurricane Center noted Monday.
Bermuda may want to keep a close eye on Larry this week. The current forecast path calls for the hurricane to continue east of the island by Thursday, bringing with it the threat of strong winds, heavy rains and coastal flooding.
“While it is too early to determine the magnitude of these dangers and the potential impacts on Bermuda, interests there should closely monitor the latest forecast updates over the next few days,” said the hurricane center. noted Monday.
We are also monitoring a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico. This area of ​​showers and thunderstorms is expected to remain disorganized as it crosses the Gulf towards Florida.

This disturbance is expected to spread to the southeastern United States by midweek, increasing showers and storms in northern Florida and southern Georgia.

Some development will be possible once this area of ​​storms hits the Atlantic later this week. Parts of the Coastal Carolinas may want to keep an eye out for these storms on weekends and over the weekend.

Western firefighters are gaining ground, but new fires are emerging

As some of the West’s biggest fires slowed, several new fires started. Evacuation orders for South Lake Tahoe were downgraded after progress was made to contain the Caldor fire.
The Caldor fire consumed more than 216,000 acres near the California-Nevada border, according to Fire cal. The fire has been burning since August 14 and is now 44% under control.

The Caldor fire has destroyed more than 900 structures since its inception, and more than 27,000 structures remain at risk.

In Amador County, near where the Caldor blaze burns, the Lawrence blaze has spread to 40 acres, burning grass, brush and wood, Cal Fire said.

The blaze prompted brief road closures and evacuations as it threatened a handful of structures, but firefighters quickly mitigated the threat. Lawrence’s fire was 30% contained on Sunday night.

Further north in Placer County, the Bridge fire burned 250 acres with 0% containment on Sunday night. Evacuations are underway, Cal Fire noted.

In southern California, the Aruba fire broke out in San Diego County, burning 100 acres southeast of the community of Rainbow, Cal Fire said. It was 15% content on Sunday night.

“Nearly 25 million people in California, Nevada and Arizona will experience temperatures up to 20 degrees above average, which means the region could see 105 to 115 degrees,” the meteorologist said by CNN Michael Guy. “Most of the heat will impact the Southwest Desert.”

There is also a red flag warning in effect Tuesday for parts of central Oregon and central Northern California, meaning conditions will be optimal for the fire to spread.

To finish beautifully

We wanted to end this week’s weather column on a positive note. Watch this meteorologist’s dog interrupt his weather report. This pretty furball is aptly named Storm.

CNN’s Kelly McCleary and Alta Spells contributed to this report.

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