A powerful squall struck the region from Westchester down to Long Island Sunday afternoon, downing trees and sparking nine mayday calls to the U.S. Coast Guard, including one from a 20-year-old man who was taking a sailing course and was washed overboard just off New Rochelle into Long Island Sound, said Coast Guard spokesman Charles Rowe.
The Coast Guard was still searching for him by early evening. Rowe said at about the time the storm hit the area, the Coast Guard issued a warning to mariners, advising them to seek the nearest safe haven. Because the storm struck so quickly, however, Rowe said there was little time to respond.
Nine mayday calls were received from mariners in distress in the waters of western Long Island Sound and into the East River, Rowe said. Four rescue boats were dispatched, he said, two from Staten Island and two from Kings Point.
Rowe said the man washed overboard between a mile and a mile and a half from shore. New Rochelle police, he said, recovered the vessel he was on and a Coast Guard helicopter was on its way from Atlantic City to join in the search.
National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Ciemnecki said his agency issued a marine weather warning for western Long Island Sound at 2:52 p.m. The storm that moved through the area produced heavy rain and strong winds, he said.
At Teterboro, N.J., the storm produced a gust of 50 knots; at La Guardia Airport, a gust of 38 knots. "The rainfall probably reduced visibility in that area to zero," Ciemnecki said, referring to western Long Island Sound.