Gnarly NYC storm footage shows record, climate change enhanced rains


Heavier, more extreme deluges are one of the most well-understood consequences of Earth’s warming climate.

New York City and other Northeastern regions received a powerful dose of intense, often record-setting rains on Sept. 1 from remnants of the storm (and former hurricane) Ida. The resulting floods were deadly. Yes, extreme weather happens naturally, but climate change exacerbates many extreme events, particularly rainfall.

Why? Mashable recently reported on the potent atmospheric phenomenon after catastrophic, record, and unsettling floods occurred around the world this summer. “When air temperature is warmer the atmosphere can naturally hold more water vapor (heat makes water molecules evaporate into water vapor), meaning there’s more water in the air, especially in many humid or rainy regions. Consequently, this boosts the odds of potent storms like thunderstorms, mid-latitude cyclones, atmospheric rivers, or hurricanes deluging places with more water.”

Warmer environments, then, load the dice for more extreme, pummeling downpours.

“Once you have more moisture in the air, you have a larger bucket you can empty,” Andreas Prein, a scientist who researches weather extremes at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told Mashable in August.”You can release more water in a shorter amount of time — there’s very little doubt about that,” Prein said.

As the footage below shows, NYC got deluged with nearly unfathomable rains.

“Effectively the entirety of NYC has experienced serious flooding from massive rainfall, which comes on the heels of another tropical system just 10 days ago that also produced extreme rainfall for NYC,” Nick Bassill, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Albany who researches weather and climate risks associated with the transportation industry, told Mashable over e-mail. “The images and videos coming out of NYC [on Sept. 1] are hard to fathom.”


“The images and videos coming out of NYC tonight are hard to fathom.”

Bassill noted that at New York’s weather network, the NYS Mesonet, 18 sites broke 24-hour site records, with 14 stations recording over five inches of rain. What’s more, after the weather network broke its rainfall record just nine days ago during the tropical storm Henri, “three stations broke THAT record, and one by over an inch,” Bassill explained. That’s extreme.

“It’s analogous to the MLB home run record being 73 HRs and then someone hitting 85,” he said. Central Park recorded over three inches of rain in just one hour, also a record.


“It’s analogous to the MLB home run record being 73 HRs and then someone hitting 85.”

For every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit of warming (or one degree Celsius) the air holds about seven percent more water vapor. That means atmospheric scientists expect big deluges to grow more intense as the climate warms — which it will for at least a few more decades. Yet humanity can, if we choose, avoid the ever-worsening impacts of climate change by slashing carbon emissions.)

The most recent UN climate report, released in Aug. 2021, concluded with high confidence that Eastern North America, a region prone to flooding, will see “increases in mean and extreme precipitation” this century. Already, the amount of precipitation during the heaviest rain events in the Northeast has increased by 71 percent between 1958 and 2012, and other U.S. regions have seen sizable increases, too.

Here’s what the resulting downpours and flooding look like in the United States’ most populous city, and nearby areas like Newark, New Jersey. New York City was built for 20th-century weather events. A warmer, and still warming, 21st century is here.

That’s intense footage. But as climate scientists repeatedly underscore, we still have a big say in our future.

“If we stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, climate change will stop getting worse,” Bob Kopp, a climate scientist and director of the Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Rutgers University, told Mashable last year.

Kopp’s basement flooded during Ida’s rains.

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