Several subway stations were flooded and major roads have been cut in New York ahead of the expected arrival of Storm Elsa, which has moved up the US East Coast.
Between 2 and 4 inches of water fell in a series of thunderstorms over the city and surrounding areas yesterday afternoon, the National Weather Service (NWS) said, "causing extensive flash flooding in certain places".
Subway passengers posted video footage on Twitter of flooded platforms at the 157th Street station north of Manhattan.
Commuters could be seen waist-deep in the water, crossing a dark pool to reach the station's platforms.
"Lines 1 and A have really taken a hit, with a lot of flooding in the stations," Sarah Feinberg, head of the MTA, New York's public transport authority, said at a press briefing yesterday.
New Yorkers used trash bags to protect their feet from water and reach their train in a flooded subway station as heavy floods from tropical storm Elsa disrupt life in the city pic.twitter.com/0IpGiqvLAa— TRT World (@trtworld) July 9, 2021
Some major roads, including in the Bronx, were temporarily closed, disrupting traffic. New York police tweeted footage of motorists being stranded by the water.
The NWS warned of possible new flooding by this morning, with the expected arrival of heavy rains brought by Storm Elsa, which is moving up from Florida.
Despite work to protect the city against flooding since Hurricane Sandy in 2012 - which killed 44 people and paralysed the American economic capital for days - New York remains very vulnerable to flooding, with such incidents expected to increase because of climate change.
Several officials, including Eric Adams, president of Brooklyn and the favourite for the November mayoral election in New York after winning the Democratic primary this week, called for urgent investments to fortify the city's infrastructure.
"Extreme weather episodes like this are not going to go away," warned one of his primary opponents, Kathryn Garcia, who oversaw the water pumping after Hurricane Sandy.
"We must invest in strategies to protect the city," she said.