Long Island weather: ‘Horrible’ timing as heavy rain impacts commute

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Teeming rains and flash flooding disrupted travel for morning commuters Tuesday morning on Long Island, police and fire officials said.

The National Weather Service said the rains, coming quickly on the heels of heavy rainfall Monday, led to flooding of poor drainage and low-lying areas, causing localized flash flooding.

“The timing was horrible,” weather service meteorologist Tim Morrin said.

A flash flood watch, which had been in effect through noon Tuesday, was lifted earlier, as “the heaviest rain is now out of the area,” he said. Still, more showers are possible into the early afternoon. 

As of just around noon, Long Island MacArthur Airport was reporting light rain and a temperature of 69 degrees. The forecast is for highs in the low 70s, with a 50 percent chance of showers right through the evening.

Suffolk County police said there were reports of flooding in Baywood, Smithtown, Lake Ronkonkoma and Blue Point, with reports of trees and wires down in Nissequogue, East Patchogue and Shirley. Those incidents included reports of a minivan stuck on a flooded roadway at the intersection of Grand Boulevard at Corbin Avenue in Baywood at 8:30 a.m. Police said there were about a dozen accidents reported, but said it was unclear if any were weather-related.

In Nassau, police said multiple vehicles reported being partially submerged on Central Avenue near the Southern State Parkway. Elmont firefighters responded to the scene but found occupants had been able to escape their vehicles, police said.

There also was a report of road flooding on Nassau Boulevard near Eagle Avenue in West Hempstead, police said.

The Long Island Rail Road reported weather-related signal problems had caused delays on the Hempstead, Oyster Bay and Ronkonkoma branches.

There were weather-related delays at LaGuardia Airport and minor weather-related delays at Long Island MacArthur Airport.

The heavy rainfall led Suffolk County Tuesday to advise beachgoers to stay out of the water at 57 beaches, as there’s potential the runoff has increased bacteria levels to above state standards. County health officials recommend allowing two tidal cycles — that’s at least 24 hours — to flush waters before resuming contact. For the latest on affected beaches, call the beach hotline at 631-852-5822.

Tuesday morning’s soaking rains came after powerful thunderstorms hit Long Island Monday night, causing power outages and rush-hour cancellations on the Long Island Rail Road.

It was right on cue Monday that drenching rain and gusty winds arrived to snarl the evening commute. Shortly before 6 p.m. on a westbound Long Island Rail Road train multiple wireless phone alerts sounded, announcing a flash flood warning for areas of Nassau County and western Suffolk. There was also a severe thunderstorm warning, as a steady stream of storms started rolling in, moving across the Island.

By Tuesday morning, Syosset had seen 3.94 inches of rain; Muttontown, 3.45 inches; the Albertson vicinity, 3.42 inches; Northport, 3.06 inches; Greenlawn, 2.9 inches; Freeport, 1.87 inches; and the Amityville vicinity, 1.14 inches, the weather service said.

Thunderstorm-related wind gusts of 64 mph and 65 mph were recorded Monday evening near Point Lookout and West Gilgo Beach, respectively.

Sparking electrical wires, downed during the storm Monday night, forced the closure of westbound Jericho Turnpike between Oakwood Road and Paumonok Drive in Huntington Tuesday, police said. Police said utility crews were on scene working to remove the downed lines and restore any power outages in the area.

PSEG Long Island said that as of 11:30 a.m. service was restored to more than 25,100 customers, with about 2,924 of its 1.1 million customers across Long Island and the Rockaways still without service.

The high Tuesday is only expected to reach about 72 degrees, quite a break from last weekend’s blistering heat.

The rest of the week looks more pleasant.

“By Wednesday, high pressure begins to build into the area from the west, bringing with it a return to dry conditions and seasonable temperatures, with highs in the lower 80s,” the weather service said. And from Wednesday to next Monday, at least mostly sunny skies are forecast with the temperature in the mid-80s, the weather service forecasters said.

With Joan Gralla and Patricia Kitchen

2019-07-23 16:49:42

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