New York Subway Floods Again

According to some reports, the heavy rainfall in New York City flooded parts of the subway system earlier today, closing the service on lines 1,2 and 3 between Times Square-42nd Street and 96th Street stations in Manhattan. The flooding at 79th Street station is reported to be the most severe.

The heavy rainfall had been forecast and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) had made some preparations. According to their website on 3 July:

In anticipation of a heavy rain storm, MTA New York City Transit has already canvassed the system cleaning drains, removing trash and making repairs.

The New York subway famously flooded during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Eight subway tunnels in total were flooded by millions of gallons of water. The South Ferry station in Manhattan for example, was flooded to ceiling height.

Since then various ideas and suggestions have been put forward for keeping flood water out of the subway system. One solution, originally expected to be in use in 2014, was to place huge inflatable plugs in the tunnels. Another idea was to have water-proof “submarine” doors at subway entrances is the most effective way of keeping  vulnerable stations like South Ferry from being flooded.

MTA plans to plug the subway
MTA plans to plug the subway

Currently MTA rely on pumps rather than prevention. According to the MTA website:

NYC Transit maintains a trio of pump trains capable of evacuating 300 gallons of water from the system every minute.  The Track and Infrastructure Division also has a fleet of portable pumps, some with a pumping capacity of 600 gallons per minute.

Heavy rainfall was forecast yesterday by the US National Weather Service, especially for parts parts of New York state, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Areas of New York and New Jersey are currently under flash flood warnings. The wet weather is a result of tropical moisture streaming northward from Tropical Storm Arthur as part of a weather system. Areas of Albany county, Sullivan County and Schenectady County had already seen some flooding on 2 June 2014.

Flooded New York Subway track in 2012. Photo: MTA New York City Transit / Leonard Wiggins
Flooded New York Subway track in 2012. Photo: MTA New York City Transit / Leonard Wiggins