Severe thunderstorms likely to hit NYC this afternoon, with threat of isolated tornadoes possible

Severe thunderstorms in New York City
File photo/Dean Moses

New Yorkers should brace themselves for the potential of severe thunderstorms and even an isolated tornado expected for Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

The Five Boroughs could expect to see the storms roll through between 2 and 7 p.m. on May 16. The warm, humid conditions outside make the atmosphere ripe for thunderstorms, and the NWS reports that New York City faces a slight risk of severe weather today.

The storms could bring winds of up to 58 mph along with brief periods of torrential rain and even hail of up to an inch in diameter. Low-lying and flood-prone areas could see some flash flooding as a result of heavy rainfall.

The NWS also indicates the storms may also have the potential for spawning an isolated tornado, but no tornado warnings or watches have been issued as of 10:15 a.m. Monday.

Despite the severity of the storms, “rush hour will be impacted,” according to the National Weather Service.

The city’s Emergency Management Department has issued a travel advisory for between 2 and 10 p.m. Monday. The agency anticipates, however, storms will generally produce up to a half-inch of rain and winds as strong as 30 mph – though locally higher amounts are possible.

“As unsettled weather continues to impact our area, New Yorkers should prepare for a wet, windy commute Monday afternoon and evening,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol. “We urge all New Yorkers to exercise caution and prepare for potential power outages. If you must travel, consider using public transportation and allow for extra travel time, and if you must drive, do not enter flooded roadways. We also encourage New Yorkers to take extra care to secure their property. Bring in any loose, lightweight objects like garbage cans, potted plants, or lawn furniture that can be easily blown away.”

In anticipation of the storms and gusty winds, the MTA has already banned all empty tractor-trailers and tandem trucks from using its bridges between 2 and 10 p.m. Monday. The authority also ordered the pedestrian walkways on the Cross Bay and Gil Hodges-Marine Parkway Bridges closed during the same period.

The walkways on the Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough) and Henry Hudson Bridges will remain open, weather permitting, according to the MTA.

MTA Chairperson and CEO Janno Lieber said Monday the agency was prepping its bridges, tunnels, and mass transit system for the downpour. 

“We obviously have dealt with significant winds in the last few weeks, and every time we actually systematically monitor wind speed and we close down bridges when winds reach a certain level or we put restrictions on the bridges,” Lieber said during an unrelated press conference in Manhattan. “Likewise, we’re completely ready for all the weather, it’s pretty routine.”

For more information on the city’s travel advisory, visit the Emergency Management website.

After Monday’s storms roll through, the city can expect a brighter, cooler Tuesday — with sunny skies and a high of 71 forecast for May 17.

Additional reporting by Kevin Duggan

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