Hazardous thunderstorms, large hail, heavy winds, and even a potential tornado are expected to make for a perilous evening commute Monday, officials said.
The National Weather Service has a severe thunderstorm watch in effect for New York City and areas north and east through 8 p.m. Monday night.
“Primarily, the damaging wind threat is what we’re really concerned about, potentially gusts up to 60 miles an hour with these thunderstorms, ” said Dominic Ramunni, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
There’s a slight chance of a tornado, though it’s more likely in parts of Northern New Jersey and the Lower Hudson Valley, Ramunni said.
“It’s one of those hazards we can’t rule out with this type of weather,” he said.
Either way Ramunni urged caution when traveling this afternoon.
“We’re going to be having a line of thunderstorms move through with several severe thunderstorms embedded within that,” he said. “It’s going to be a very messy situation.”
New York City’s Office of Emergency Management warned New Yorkers to be on the lookout for further warnings and said power outages could be possible. The city has also issued a travel advisory for the evening rush.
“It’s nothing that I would consider unusual for this time of year,” meteorologist Garett Argianas told Gothamist on Monday evening. “We often do see thunderstorms during the month of May, especially when we get into these warm and muggy stretches.”
Still, he said New Yorkers should be prepared, and plan to be inside for the duration of the storm to avoid lightning or potential floodwaters. In the small chance that a tornado does materialize, Argianas said the best thing to do is be away from windows, and if possible, a basement.
“Obviously in New York City there’s a lot of high-rises, so ideally you’d move to a lower floor if possible,” Argianas said. “If you’re not able to do so then you wanna be in the interior, likely a bathroom, something that doesn’t have windows in it. That’s the safest bet, putting as much distance between you and the outside walls as possible.”
While there’s the chance of localized flooding, Rumunni said he expected the storm to move through quickly without dumping large amounts of rain, with accumulation of less than an inch.