New York releases new climate projections: Here’s what to expect

what to know

  • New York City is headed for more intense rain, flooding and heat waves, according to a new climate report.
  • By the end of the century, New York could see up to 30% more annual rainfall.
  • On average, there are about 370 heat-related deaths in New York per year.

New York City is headed for more intense rain, flooding and heat waves, according to the latest report from the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice (MOCEJ) and the city’s Climate Change Panel New York (NPCC).

The NPCC is an independent advisory council that analyzes local environmental impacts, recommending actionable policies and climate-based solutions.

The fourth and new assessment was released on Monday and predicts the city will become warmer with an increase in the frequency and duration of hot days, as well as increased risks from rainfall and groundwater flooding.

“We’ve already seen a foot of sea level rise since 1900 in New York City, and now in the next 25 years in 2050, that could be anywhere from a foot and a half to two feet higher, so what took 100 years to do is now only taking 25 years to do,” said Elijah Hutchinson, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice during an earlier interview with NBC Nova York.

By the end of the century, New York City could see up to 30 percent more annual rainfall with 1.5 times more days with more than an inch of rain, according to the report. Sea levels are predicted to rise as much as five feet by 2100.

During Hurricane Ida in 2021, at least 13 deaths were reported in the districts, most of whom drowned in basement apartments. In addition to lost lives, property damage, and mental health issues, stormwater and sewer overflows harm New Yorkers with contaminated water.

Dr. Radley Horton is a research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who warns that storms similar to Hurricane Ida are becoming more frequent.

“The worst and wettest day of the year now contains 50 percent more rain than it did just a couple of generations ago,” Dr. Horton told NBC New York.

Topography, historic stormwater flow paths, and subsurface conditions are some of the factors that make a zip code more vulnerable to extreme rainfall, including low-lying and inland areas. Southeast and central Queens, northern Staten Island and the southeast Bronx are most at risk for dangerous flooding in the city.

In the 2050s, the MOCEJ estimates that the next major hurricane, similar to Sandy in 2012, could cost $90 billion in damage and economic losses, nearly five times the previous impact.

On average, there are about 370 heat-related deaths in the city per year, according to the report, making high temperatures the leading cause of weather-related deaths, even nationwide.

Hutchinson says low-income environmental justice communities are the most endangered, and among all the heat-related deaths in the city last year, those apartments had no air conditioning.

“About 25 percent of some neighborhoods in New York don’t have access to air conditioning, which is a big problem when we have temperatures rising to the degree they are,” Hutchinson said.

Initiating climate solutions such as expanding green space, rethinking land use, zoning and building guidelines are all on Hutchinson’s mind when thinking about taking action on what’s next.

Hutchinson believes the green economy in the city “is poised to take off, and will account for seven percent of New York’s workforce by 2040,” a tripling of jobs representing nearly 90 billion dollars in gross domestic product.

Chasing our climate: on the front linesis a sequel to a 30-minute documentary that focuses on weather disruptions after a tumultuous year, including devastating Canadian wildfires and Hudson Valley flooding, while featuring climate heroes from New York and New Jersey who run into danger to save our communities.

Chasing our climate is an NBC New York special that first aired in 2022 on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. The four-part series highlighted dozens of tristate leaders and nonprofits finding solutions to reduce their carbon footprint, including the New York Department of Sanitation and the Billion Oyster Project. Watch the first part here.

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