A powerful storm that rolled across Long Island early Wednesday dumped up to 13 inches of rain on the Island, flooding several communities and sparking road closures throughout the region.
Water flooded basements, forced major and local roads to be closed and caused widespread Long Island Rail Road delays, snarling the Wednesday morning rush hour commute.
There was an “astonishing amount of rainfall,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Tim Morrin, adding that Islip recorded 13.10 inches of rain. “No drainage systems can handle that,” he said.
Morrin said rain totals came in on average between 3 to 10 inches elsewhere across the Island. At one point, almost 5 inches of rain fell between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. near Holbrook and Islip.
Dramatic photos and videos posted on social media showed idle cars submerged in water. There were also dozens of abandoned vehicles scattered along LI roads, according to reports. Suffolk County police reported a driver was killed on the Long Island Expressway at 5 a.m., in what appears to be a weather-related accident.
Communities ravaged by Superstorm Sandy, such as Lindenhurst, also experienced serious flooding.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told FiOs1 News. “This is a major, major incident.”
He urged residents to stay home unless they absolutely have to go out because there are hundreds of vehicle stranded throughout the county.
New York State police reported Wednesday that the Southern State Parkway was closed westbound at exit 39 for Route 231 and in both directions at exit 42 for Fifth Avenue. Northern State Parkway is closed both directions at exit 35, route 106/107, and so is the entrance ramp to the northbound Wantagh State Parkway from westbound Sunrise Highway. Route 135 was reopened after an earlier flooding closure, Nassau County police said.
The Long Island Rail Road was reporting system-wide delays of up to 30 minutes because of weather-related problems. Additionally, the Far Rockaway branch was suspended westbound from Far Rockaway to Valley Stream because of flooding conditions. There’s also 90-minute delays on the Montauk branch, the LIRR said.
As of 8:30 a.m., there were more than 2,000 PSEG Long Island ratepayers without power. The majority of homes without power—1,775—were in Nassau County.
Morrin, of the National Weather Service, said he heard reports of numerous rescues during the storm.
A Nassau County police spokesman said he wasn’t aware of any major crashes. A Suffolk County police spokeswoman said a person driving a Jeep Liberty westbound near Route 110 swerved and struck a tanker truck and later struck a guard rail. The driver of the Jeep was killed.
A flash flood warning and a flash flood warning remain in effect for parts of LI as of 11 a.m.
Morrin said Long Island took the brunt of the storm. New York City saw only an inch of rain, he noted, as did parts of Queens and Brooklyn.
Although forecasters issued a flash flood watch late Tuesday and were tracking the storm as it departed coastal New Jersey, the amount of rainfall was still a shock.
“There’s no information that any meteorologist would have that you would anticipate that excessive, off-the-chart type of amounts,” Morrin said.
“All the conditions were coming together for potentially flooding rain.”
-With Timothy Bolger