2007_07_subwayrain.jpgToday's morning subway and bus commute should be a lot smoother (unless you need to stop at Grand Central) than yesterday's messy commute. There were a number of subway disruptions and diversions due to flooding from the rain, which left many straphangers frustrated. But why did pouring rain stop the subway? Well, here's what the MTA says:

NYC Transit utilized portable pumps and pump trains to help clear 600 feet of 2-foot-deep water across all four tracks on the Queens Boulevard line near 65th Street in Queens today. As a result, service was restored on the E, F and R lines just before rush hour, although commuters should expect some delays.

It's worth noting that the subway system, on a normal, dry day, pumps out 13 million gallons of water! So when a lot of rain comes down fast, it's hard for the drains and pumps to keep up.

MTA executive director and CEO Eliot "Lee" Sander said, "Today’s torrential downpours strained our infrastructure, but with unprecedented interagency cooperation we limited the inconvenience to the greatest possible extent. Recent investments in maintenance of drains and improved subway cleaning also paid off in limiting delays on the subway system.” Hmm, if yesterday was an example of limited delays, we don't want to know what unlimited ones are - though we do remember, back in 2004, when Hurricane Frances visited, at least 10 subway lines were screwed. (And if the subway pumps weren't working at all, it could look like this.)

The MTA sent an email to riders last night, saying, "Due to potential weather-related flooding conditions over the next 24-36 hours throughout the MTA region, we suggest our customers continue to check the status of our rail, subway and bus services by listening to radio and television reports or clicking on our website at www.mta.info." LIRR employees were also pumping water out of many stations. And it was confirmed that a tornado touched down on Long Island's Suffolk County. Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi said, "This should serve as a wake-up call [for people to prepare for hurricanes]. It's not a matter of if we're going to have a hurricane, it's a matter of when."

Photograph of the Steinway Street station's stairs by wtwallace on Flickr