The east coast of the United States endured a punishing winter at the end of 2017 through the first quarter of 2018 due to four winter storms, and even though winter is over, it seems New York City is still facing some unrelenting weather. On Monday, April 16, the northeastern side of the U.S. got a bombardment of torrential rain, thunder, and strong winds, which caused surface streets and subway stations in New York City, to experience significant flooding. The flash flooding caused chaos with the Monday morning commute contributing to several traffic delays.
The rainfall was so substantial that many parts of New York City got at least three inches of rain during a six to eight hour period, with Central Park getting 3.28 inches of rain by 12:00 pm. More rain fell for Tuesday, but at a decreased amount. The conditions caused by the surge of rainfall not only almost paralyzed street-level traffic, it also nearly incapacitated subway traffic as well. But due to the efforts of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New Yorkers were able to get to their intended destinations with some delay because MTA teams were on hand to deal with the flooding situations and guarantee customer safety.
Floodwaters had rushed into several underground subway stations resulting in drastic changes of subway run times. Although crews were clearing the water that came in from the streets and accumulated on the station platforms, a few trains had to bypass certain stations due to excessive standing water. Simultaneously, the water overflow situation brought repeated attention to the age-induced deterioration of the subway infrastructure and its difficulty to adapt to adverse weather conditions and the commuters’ need to get to their destinations on time.
Affecting more than a dozen subway lines, rushing water created waterfalls down stairways, poured from ceilings and through light fixtures that fell onto the station platforms causing the accumulation of one to two inches of standing water. A contributing factor to the subway flooding is a street-level problem caused by clogged storm grates. Even though station platforms became inundated by floodwaters, subway tracks weren’t affected because there is an extensive drainage system in place to remove excess water. This occurence was one more thing to confirm the long-held belief of the MTA and the citizens of New York City that the subway system is overdue for extensive remodeling and updating.