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NEW YORK — Heavy thunderstorms caused a deluge of rain, flooding subway stations and roadways in New York City hours before Tropical Storm Elsa arrived Friday.
The thunderstorms Thursday evening caused flash flooding in Manhattan and the Bronx that submerged at least one subway stop with waist-high water and soaked several others as traffic on busy roadways came to halt.
The rains prompted flash flood and severe thunderstorm warnings from the National Weather Service. Some pockets of the city saw nearly 3 to 3.5 inches of rain Thursday, according to weather service data.
Elsa had not yet reached New York when the flooding started but the tropical storm is expected to bring even more rainfall to the city, which had seen another severe thunderstorm Wednesday evening.
More than a dozen people were rescued from vehicles that got stuck on the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx, police said, and parts of Harlem River Drive also temporarily closed due to the floods.
Photos and videos shared on social media showed cars in several inches of water, yet still driving through the drenched roads.
JUST IN 🚨 Harlem River Drive in New York City blocked after being flooded
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) July 8, 2021
This is the Major Deegan Expressway in NYC after a vicious downpour a short while ago. pic.twitter.com/cJVYGsiTAo
— NYC Scanner (@NYScanner) July 8, 2021
At the No. 1 station on West 157th Street in upper Manhattan, subway riders trekked into waist-high waters in attempts to catch their trains.
Videos showed one woman stepping into the murky waters of a flooded station while another man tried to walk through with a garbage bag around his legs.
— Paullee 🤠 (@PaulleeWR) July 8, 2021
Sarah Feinberg, interim president of New York City Transit, said crews were working to address issues as the water receded. "Drains are working remarkably well," she said in a tweet.
Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for mayor, blamed the flooding issues on "bad spending decisions for decades" and called for "green infrastructure to absorb flash storm runoff."
"This cannot be New York," he said in a tweet sharing the video of the woman trudging through the water at the No. 1 station.
Farewell, Elsa: Tropical storm wallops Northeast as it heads offshore
Friday morning, Elsa soaked the city after having killed at least one person and injuring 10 others in its path up the East Coast. Much of the city was under a flood advisory.
Heavy rainfall and gusty winds continued to hit much of the Northeast. As of 11 a.m. ET, the center of the 50-mph storm was located over eastern Long Island, New York, the National Hurricane Center said.
A tropical storm warning remained in effect for portions of the coasts of Long Island and southern New England. In all, some 17 million people live where the tropical storm warning was in effect.
On the current forecast track, the center of Elsa will move near eastern Long Island and the coast of southern New England through Friday afternoon, and then offshore of the northeastern United States coast by this evening, the hurricane center said.
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The hurricane center also said a tornado or two was possible through early afternoon Friday over parts of Long Island and southeastern New England.
The system should move over Atlantic Canada by late Friday night and Saturday, then it will gradually dissipate as it spins over the Labrador Sea.
Scattered power outages were still being reported along Elsa’s path Friday morning, with about 24,000 homes and businesses without electricity from Delaware to Massachusetts, according to the website poweroutage.us.
Follow USA TODAY's Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NYC flooding soaks subways, roads; Tropical Storm Elsa heads offshore