On August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a powerful Category 4 storm, causing intense rain and flooding, storm surge, and massive power outages. However, the loss of life due to the remnants of Ida was even greater in the Northeast. 48 deaths occurred in New Jersey and New York combined, compared to 33 deaths in Louisiana. Why was there more loss of life in an area that was only affected by the remnants of Ida?
Tropical Storm Henri dumped a few inches of rain across the Northeast only a few days before Ida’s remnants swept through. Combine that with an already unusually rainy summer, and Ida’s heavy rainfall was the event that pushed streams, rivers, and the saturated ground to its limit. Widespread flooding occurred. People drowned in their cars and in their flooded basements. Subway tunnels filled with water and railroad tracks were washed out and destroyed.
There were widespread rainfall totals of 6-8 inches across southeast New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and eastern Pennsylvania. Most of that rain fell within a 24-hour time frame. Some areas even saw rainfall amounts of 9-10 inches. Central Park set their new hourly rainfall record with 3.1 inches of rain recorded in just one hour. Their previous hourly rainfall record had been set only the week before during Henri, with 1.94 inches of rain in one hour. Ida more than smashed that record. Newark Airport in New Jersey recorded 8.41 inches of rain in one day, which is their new all-time daily rainfall record. In addition, multiple tornadoes were reported across New Jersey, including an unusually strong EF3.
Hurricane Ida is a storm that will not soon be forgotten. Ida is the sixth-costliest tropical cyclone on record. It is tied with Hurricane Sandy as the fourth-costliest Atlantic hurricane to have affected the United States. Ida caused an estimated $65.25 billion in damages.
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