MTA readies mass transit system for heavy rains from overnight nor’easter

An out-of-service train at World Trade Center on Sept. 2.
An out-of-service train at World Trade Center on Sept. 2.
REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials are preparing for Monday night’s nor’easter as up to 6 inches of rainfall are expected to hit the Five Boroughs overnight, the transit agency’s acting chief said.

“At no point do we expect to see the type of intense rainfall over a very short term that we had during Hurricane Ida,” said Janno Lieber during a press conference outside the MTA’s headquarters in Lower Manhattan. “But we’re prepared for whatever comes.”

MTA has deployed hundreds of workers for the night to stations prone to flooding in the subway system, the commuter rails, and at the agency’s bridges and tunnels, according to Lieber.

“Flash flooding is very unpredictable by its nature, but we do have enough experience to know where there are some locations that are especially vulnerable,” the transit guru said.

That includes more than 50 subway stations where crews have headed out to cover vents, close valves, get pumping equipment ready, and clear out any street-level catch basins.

MTA has rolled out pumping trains, pumps on trucks, and some 900 more pumps at 300 locations, according to Lieber.

The coastal storm will bring heavy rain and strong winds to the area with a flash flood watch in effect starting 8 p.m. Monday night until Tuesday 5 p.m., dropping rain at a rate of up to an inch an hour, according to the National Weather Service.

Strong wind gusts of 40-50 miles per hour will blow through the city, especially along the coast, with a wind advisory in effect from 2 p.m. Tuesday until 6 a.m. Wednesday.

The forecasters predict a rainfall rate of between half an inch to 1 inch per hour, far below the record-shattering 3.15 inches of downpour that soaked the city during Ida last month.

That storm shut down the entire subway system and stranded 17 trains, as water spouted from platform manholes like a geyser.

MTA pumped out 75 million gallons of water from that storm and racked up an estimated $100 million in damages.