At least 14 people were killed in New Jersey when the tail end of Hurricane Ida battered the area with tornadoes, record rain and flooding that triggered states of emergency on Thursday.
The National Weather Service recorded 3.15 inches (8.91 centimeters) of rain in Central Park in one hour Wednesday night, far surpassing the previous recorded high of 1.94 inches (4.92 centimeters) that fell in one hour during Henri on Aug. 21. Scientists have warned such weather extremes will be more common with man-made global warming.
The ferocious storm also spawned tornadoes, including one that ripped apart homes and toppled silos in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, south of Philadelphia.
As of September 2, twenty-eight direct deaths have been confirmed in relation to Ida; fourteen in New Jersey, eight in New York, three in Louisiana, two in Mississippi, and one in Maryland.
The storm has caused four indirect deaths, including a Louisiana man mauled to death by an alligator after walking through Ida’s floodwaters. Two electrical workers died while repairing power grid damage caused by the storm. In New Orleans, a man was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning whilst working on a generator with inadequate ventilation.
Images shared on social media showed cars submerged on highways and water damage to homes after a wind-driven downpour shattered rainfall records and prompted an unprecedented flash flood emergency for New York City.
In New Jersey, 14 other people were killed, including five residents at the Oakwood Plaza Apartments complex in Elizabeth, two in submerged vehicles in Hillsborough Township and one person whose body was recovered in Passaic.
A spokesperson for Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage said it was unclear how the Oakwood Plaza residents died, although the housing complex is adjacent to the Elizabeth River.
In Passaic, officials said firefighters recovered the body from a vehicle that was caught in floodwaters near the Passaic River.
Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency in all 21 counties, urging people to stay off the flooded roads. Meteorologists warned that rivers likely won’t crest for a few more days, raising the possibility of more widespread flooding.
“There’s a lot of hurt in New Jersey,” Murphy told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday as he discussed damage caused by flooding in the northern part of the state and tornadoes in the southern part of the state.
Newark International Airport shut down Wednesday night as videos showed water rushing through a terminal. The airport was allowing limited flights Thursday. Officials said 370 flights have been canceled so far.
Amtrak service was canceled between Philadelphia and Boston, resuming in limited capacity Thursday morning. New Jersey Transit train service remained suspended with the exception of the Atlantic City line. Buses were running with myriad cancelations and delays. Transit officials cautioned against traveling unless it’s “absolutely essential.”
At least 220,000 customers were without power in the region, with most of the outages in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. More than 35,000 customers were without power Thursday morning in New York City, Long Island and its northern suburbs.
The Atlantic hurricane season is far from over. Larry became a hurricane Thursday morning, forecast to rapidly intensify into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm by Sunday. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said it’s moving west but remains far from any coast.
Hurricane Ida was the second most intense hurricane to strike the U.S. state of Louisiana on record, only behind Hurricane Katrina, and is tied for the strongest landfall in the state by maximum winds with Hurricane Laura a year prior and the 1856 Last Island hurricane. Ida was the ninth named storm, fourth hurricane, and second major hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Ida developed on August 26 in the western Caribbean Sea.
Tropical Depression Nine intensified into Tropical Storm Ida later that day near Grand Cayman. With favorable conditions, Ida intensified into a hurricane on August 27 while moving over western Cuba.
A day later, the hurricane underwent rapid intensification due to very warm sea surface temperatures and light wind shear in the Gulf of Mexico. Ida reached a peak intensity as it approached the northern Gulf coast, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and a minimum central pressure of 929 mbar (27.4 inHg).
On August 29, the hurricane made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Ida weakened over land, dropping to a tropical depression on August 30 as it turned to the north and northeast. On September 1, the former hurricane transitioned into a post-tropical cyclone as it accelerated through the northeastern United States.