Tropical Storm Elsa Soaks NYC as It Races Up East Coast

flooding new york
A flooded street in Brooklyn Heights, Friday. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Fast-moving Tropical Storm Elsa hit the New York City region with heavy rain and high winds Friday, toppling trees and hindering some rail service as it churned its way toward New England.

Maximum sustained winds from the storm peaked near 50 mph as it moved past New York City and across the eastern tip of Long Island, the National Hurricane Center said in an 11 a.m. update.

There were some snags on commuter rail lines Friday, with slight delays on the Harlem Line north of the city and service suspended on the Long Island Rail Road’s Oyster Bay Branch because of fallen trees. The storm struck a city already reeling from a deluge Thursday that flooded roads and at least one subway station.

Video posted to social media late Thursday afternoon showed water levels reaching waist height at the subway station at West 157th Street in upper Manhattan.

In one video, an intrepid woman climbed down the stairs of a station and waded through the dark, murky water with a bag on her shoulder and another held above her head. In another video, a group attempted to cross the water by hopping through it in garbage bags.

The water issues Thursday weren’t just below ground, either.

Some drivers on the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx needed emergency assistance after becoming stuck when the water got too deep on one side of the roadway. On the other side, drivers had to pass the area only using one lane, with the others covered by brownish water.

The FDR Drive in Manhattan also had severe flooding issues in some sections.

Interim New York City Transit president Sarah Feinberg said in an email that overall, the New York City subway system “actually weathered the storm quite well,” and the subway flooding lasted only a few minutes and caused only minor disruptions.

Up to 6 inches of rain was possible in some areas of the Northeast Friday, enough to cause flash flooding. The hurricane center said a tornado or two was possible through early afternoon Friday over parts of Long Island and southeastern New England.

The strongest winds were expected to stay off the coast of New England. But the storm was expected to bring heavy rain – up to 4 inches on the Maine coast – before blowing into the Bay of Fundy and Canada late Friday.

Heavy rain had ended in New York City by mid-morning.

A tropical storm warning Friday morning stretched along parts of the East Coast from New Jersey to Massachusetts. Forecasters said Elsa was moving northeast at 31 mph.

Elsa is forecast to become a post-tropical cyclone by Friday night.

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