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12 inches and counting: Storm smashes March record

Rain water running off potato fields flooded parts

Rain water running off potato fields flooded parts of Route 114 in East Hampton, Tuesday. (March 30, 2010) Photo Credit: Doug Kuntz

The ceaseless rain that fell Monday and Tuesday pushed March rainfall totals on Long Island to historic heights and left a soggy legacy of flooding, beach erosion and damaged homes, not to mention a yearning for sun.

According to records kept at Brookhaven National Laboratory, 12.1 inches of rain had fallen this month as of Tuesday afternoon, shattering the March record of 10.37 inches, set in 2001. The lab has records dating back to 1949.

From the East End, where already waterlogged ground struggled to contain the downpour, to the Island's popular summer beaches - some literally vanishing in the Atlantic, the storm showed no mercy.

"It's horrible," said Rich Baker, acting Islip public works commissioner. "I've never seen it this bad."

Whether flying or driving, Tuesday wasn't a day for travel. There were lengthy flight delays at the region's airport, and some area roads were impassable.

A stretch of Northern Boulevard in Syosset was under 4 feet of water. At a flooded intersection in North Bay Shore, Baker said he saw two cars that seemed to be floating.

After the deluge, there's work to be done. Long Island homeowners are pumping out basements. Crews are pumping water from roads and drainage sumps, which will take time in the heavily saturated East End.

And pothole repair crews are looking to redo earlier fixes. "This rain," Baker said, "it's done a number on some of the temporary patches we had out there."

The rain brought little harm to farmers, though. The ground remains too cold for seeds to germinate, said Mark Zaweski, president of the Long Island Farm Bureau, and heavy planting hasn't begun.

With sun and breeze, the ground dries fast, he said.

THIS WEEK'S FORECAST

Sunshine is coming. On Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service, there's a chance of light showers in the morning giving way to partly sunny conditions by the afternoon with highs in the lower 50s.

It will remain partly cloudy Wednesday night with lows in the 40s and sunny Thursday, with highs in the mid 50s. Expect temperatures to rise Friday and Saturday, the weather service said, with partly sunny skies Sunday.

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