The substantial setup behind Ida's impacts
The remnants of Hurricane Ida pummeled the tri-state area with significant flash flooding, resulting in dozens of deaths and billions of dollars in damage. These and many more catastrophic impacts were also felt across thousands of miles to the Gulf coast. The total damage is estimated to be over $70 billion, the fifth-costliest Atlantic hurricane on record.
Tropical Storm Ida was named on Aug. 26, 2021 over the Southern Caribbean Sea, rapidly intensifying multiple times before its U.S. landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana.
Rapid Intensification is when a storm strengthens by at least 35 mph in 24 hours. It rapidly strengthened from a Category 2 to Category 4 in just six hours on Aug. 28.
On Aug. 29, Ida made landfall at its peak strength with 150 mph estimated max winds.
It is tied for the strongest landfalling hurricane in Louisiana, tied with the 1856 Last Island Hurricane and Hurricane Laura in 2020. A ship just offshore of the port reported a 172 mph wind gust before the instrument broke.
Ida weakened to a tropical depression and then to a post-tropical cyclone early on Sept. 1.
Even though the wind threat diminished as Ida continued inland, the flooding rain threat continued to grow. Steering winds helped Ida maintain a rich connection to tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico as it continued to move northeastward. That helped produce the deadly flash flooding experienced across multiple states, despite it’s no longer being a hurricane.
Ida is a perfect example of the misconception that the wind speed dictates the intensity and impact of a tropical cyclone. With the perfect setup of moisture and energy with Ida moving up the Eastern U.S., never-before-seen flash flooding and tornadoes impacted the Tri-State later on Sept. 1 and early Sept. 2.
Five total tornadoes were confirmed from Ida across New Jersey, including a devastating EF-3 tornado that ripped through Mullica Hill. Aside from these tornadoes, wind was not the main story across the rest of the Tri-State area. There was incredible rain and flooding.
A flash flood emergency was issued for the first time ever in New York City and the surrounding areas that evening. A Flash Flood Emergency is issued only when a significant threat to human life and property is happening or is imminent. Radar-estimated rainfall rates between 3-5” across Northeast New Jersey and parts of NYC that evening - virtually impossible for drainage systems to function properly.
Over 3 inches of rain fell at Central Park between 8:51 and 9:51PM, the highest 1-hour rainfall on record for NYC. Nearly 3.25 inches fell at Newark Airport between 7:51 and 8:51PM, their highest 1-hour rainfall record. Many photos and videos inside the airport went viral showing the widespread flooding.
Most NYC subway service was suspended, numerous roads/highways were flooded and impassable, and all travel was essentially halted. Even walking a block down a city street was impossible in some neighborhoods.
Many areas saw at least a half-foot of rain falling in just a few hours, with some locations seeing over 10” of rainfall. 9.55” was recorded in Midtown Manhattan; 10.05” was recorded in Manville, New Jersey; and 8.90” was recorded in Madison, Connecticut.
Will the Tri-State area experience another flooding nightmare like Ida? While no two storms are ever alike, the risk remains for significant damage and impacts from a tropical cyclone, no matter the wind intensity. Keep it tuned here as the News 12 Storm Watch Team will continue to update as storms form during Hurricane Season.