Torrential downpours after a week of steady rainfall that brought flash flooding to New York City on Friday were a consequence of climate change and likely reflect a “new normal,” Governor Kathy Hochul said.
“Of course, we know, this is a result of climate change. This is unfortunately what we have to expect as the new normal,” Ms Hochul said on Saturday.
Almost 20cm of rain fell in some parts of the most populous city in the US, enough to enable a sea lion at Central Park Zoo to briefly swim out of the confines of her pool enclosure.
Ms Hochul warned of “life-threatening” floods and declared a state of emergency for New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley.
She hailed the response of authorities and said that no fatalities were reported despite the heavy rain.
Flooding had caused major disruptions to the city's subway system and the Metro North commuter rail service, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Agency, which operates both.
Some subway lines were suspended entirely, and many stations were closed. Some bus routes slowed to a crawl, trapping riders for hours. Officials warned some New Yorkers to avoid travelling unless they were fleeing a flooded area.
Ms Hochul said a state of emergency, which allows faster allocation of resources to deal with a crisis, will remain in effect for the next six days.
The New York governor added she spoke to the White House and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and said they were prepared to support a federal emergency declaration of disaster if necessary.