Officials warn of heavy rain in New York after widespread criticism of handling of flash flooding

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams are warning residents of heavy rain in the state after receiving widespread criticism on how they recently handled flash flooding in the city.

The warning comes exactly one week after more than 5 inches of rain fell across parts of New York, flooding subway stations, roads and a terminal at LaGuardia Airport.

As the remnants of post-tropical cyclone Philippe moved north in the Atlantic and vowed to bring rain to New York City overnight and into Saturday, Adams said he activated the city’s Flash Flood Emergency Plan proactively on Friday.

“New Yorkers: periods of heavy rain and potential flooding are forecast late tonight into tomorrow,” he warned on the platform X, urging residents to do their part by being prepared.

The hours between late Friday night and sunrise Saturday were of most concern, New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol said in a statement. A National Weather Service flood watch covers 2 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Though widespread, major impacts were not anticipated, overnight downpours could disrupt transportation, flood basements, and elevate New Yorkers’ everyday threat level, Iscol’s office said.

Hochul urged residents “to prepare for heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding in some locations across the eastern portion of the state this weekend.”

“A strong, slow-moving cold front” may bring up 3 to 5 inches of rain starting Friday going into Saturday in areas like Albany, New York City, Long Island and central New York, according to a news release from Hochul’s office. The heaviest rain is expected Saturday and the eastern part of the state is at greatest risk for floods.

“We are keeping a close eye on a strong weather system that has the potential to dump more rain and cause more flooding this weekend in areas that are still recovering from last week’s storms,” Hochul said in a statement. “I urge New Yorkers to monitor the weather this weekend but take steps now to prepare for heavy rain and flash flooding. State agencies will be standing ready throughout the storm to assist local governments as needed.”

The remnants of Philippe could combine with a cold low pressure system over the Great Lakes and southeastern Canada that was headed east, federal forecasters said.

“Increasing moisture from the approach of the remnants of Philippe and strengthening dynamics aloft will lead to numerous storms,” the National Weather Service said in a forecast discussion Friday.

The rain-producing weather was expected to move into northern New England on Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

“The WPC has issued a Slight Risk of excessive rainfall over parts of the Northeast from Saturday into Sunday morning,” the center said in a weather update. “The associated heavy rain will create mainly localized areas of flash flooding, with urban areas, roads, and small streams the most vulnerable.”

Unusual weather was also forecast for the weekend in other parts of the country.

Freeze warnings or frost advisories were in effect through midmorning for much of Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas; red flag warnings were in effect through Saturday for parts of the Gulf Coast; and heat advisories were active through Saturday night along the California coast from San Francisco to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Gulf Coast’s red flag warnings mean dry, hot weather with gusty winds — ideal conditions for wildfires — dominate the forecast. Meanwhile, the rare heat advisories for California beach communities include the possibility of near-100 degree highs in some locations, according to the National Weather Service.

The Jekyll-and-Hyde fall weekend follows news that last month marked the hottest September on record for the planet by far, according to data released by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Last week, New York officials were criticized for not warning residents adequately ahead of heavy rainfall that led to severe flash flooding in parts of the state.

Adams faced repeated questions at a news briefing Sept. 29 about the matter, to which he said that his administration acted according to protocol.

“We have, number one, Notify NYC and using the various social media channels and Commissioner Iscol has been speaking about this from afternoon yesterday, so all the necessary precautions were taken,” Adams said at the time.

“We’ve gone through these flood-related and heavy rain conditions before and we followed the right protocol,” he added.

Sept. 29 was declared the “wettest day” New York City has had since Hurricane Ida swept through the area in 2021, according to Iscol.

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