Some gusts were strong enough to bring down this large...

Some gusts were strong enough to bring down this large tree limb on Normandy Drive in Bethpage. (Feb. 19, 2011) Credit: Photo by Jim Staubitser

Linda Rohan is thankful to be alive - and she should be.

The nurse was driving near her Merrick Woods home when a tall oak tree came crashing down onto the rear of her car as she slowed down for a stop sign, pulling down utility lines and knocking out power to the neighborhood.

"All I heard was cracking and the sound of the tree landing on my car," Rohan, 59, said soon after she was freed - unhurt - from her brown 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix. "All I saw were branches surrounding the car."

Witnesses managed to open the car's front passenger-side door and then she climbed out.

Nassau police blamed the felled oak on the furious winds that wreaked havoc Saturday across the region.

The effect of high winds across Long Island began early and caused scattered power outages and delays at area airports throughout the day.

The highest gust recorded as of 6 p.m. on Long Island - 60 mph - was at Bayville, at 7:30 a.m., according to the National Weather Service's David Stark.

The winds were expected to continue overnight.

A wind advisory, issued when sustained winds of 31 to 39 mph or gusts of 46 to 57 mph are expected, will be in effect until 4 this morning, Stark said.

Said his colleague, Lauren Nash: "When you get this strong low that strengthens next to building high pressure, that causes some strong winds on the boundary."

At just after 9 last night, the Long Island Power Authority reported more than 2,800 outages.

"We're constantly working on getting everybody restored, so it's going to fluctuate," authority spokesman Steve Garver said about the outage numbers.

At the airports, winds delayed flights. As of 9:30 p.m. at JFK, arrivals were off by an average two hours and 17 minutes, while LaGuardia's delays were 15 minutes. At Newark, the delays were about 15 minutes, and at Long Island MacArthur Airport earlier Saturday, the delays were about an hour, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

With Matthew Chayes

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