New York and the surrounding areas are currently experiencing a flash flood warning, prompting the city and state to issue emergency declarations. Parts of Brooklyn received over 5 inches of rain, while Central Park and Midtown Manhattan had around 4 inches. Trains were stalled or suspended, students were unable to safely return home from school, and various areas experienced severe flooding. The heavy downpour follows days of rain that has made the region susceptible to flooding.
The flooding in New York is believed to be influenced by the changing weather patterns associated with climate change. Rohit Aggarwala, commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, highlighted this during a press conference, stating that the city’s infrastructure is not evolving fast enough to keep up with the changing climate. The physics behind this type of flooding are well-known to atmospheric scientists, as warmer air can hold more moisture, resulting in heavier rainfall during storms. Additionally, as the planet warms, it releases more energy through evaporation, leading to increased precipitation.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that cities like New York are working with outdated infrastructure that may be centuries old. When these cities were initially built, the climate was taken into account in terms of designing sewers and canals to quickly drain stormwater. However, with the intensity of storms increasing and precipitation overwhelming the infrastructure, widespread flooding becomes more common. This highlights the need for updated and resilient infrastructure that can withstand the effects of climate change.