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Officials: Tornado touches down in Manorville

Residents in Manorville explained what they saw when they walked out of their homes Monday night after a possible waterspout or funnel cloud passed through Suffolk County.  (Credit: Stringer News)

A tornado touched down in Manorville late Monday afternoon, ripping limbs off dozens of trees and blowing out windows, roof shingles and aluminum siding from homes in its path, officials said.

No injuries were reported after the tornado first hit the ground at about 4:33 p.m., 400 yards south of the intersection of South Street and Dayton Avenue. By 4:38 p.m., the tornado had passed, said officials with the National Weather Service.

While tornados are rare for Long Island, they have happened on occasion, said Nelson Vaz, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Upton office.

“It’s not a common occurrence but it’s not unheard of,” Vaz said, adding that two tornados hit Long Island in 2018, one in Ronkonkoma and another on Fisher’s Island.

A severe thunderstorm moving northeast over Mastic and Shirley and then into Manorville whipped up the tornado, which had a maximum wind speed of 85 mph across a path 50 yards wide and 1.6 miles long, Vaz said.

Dozens of oak, maple and pine trees sustained damage as did homes from branches sheered off by the twister, which continued northeast through the south end of neighboring Rosewood Street. It then passed over the street’s intersection with South Street. Several more trees were uprooted and some houses on both sides of South Street had widespread tree damage, authorities said.

The tornado then crossed the Long Island Expressway near Exit 69. The path of tree damage and scattered debris ended on a service road on the north side of the LIE near Wading River Road.

The weather service earlier had said it was investigating reports of a waterspout and funnel cloud off Long Island’s south shore. The weather service issued rip current warnings for most of the week related to Hurricane Dorian but issued another one after the reports of the waterspout and funnel cloud.

Meteorologist John Murray said they had received reports and photos and seen pictures and videos on social media of the weather phenomena that matched what meteorologists had observed on radar.

“We had some thunderstorms that moved across Suffolk County and we saw rotation with them on radar and we did issue a tornado warning,” he said. “At this point we’re just sorting out getting exact timing and location information so we’re still in the process of gathering information with regards to damage and sites of the storm.”

Murray said preliminary locations of the waterspout was south of Fire Island Pines beach at 3:49 p.m. He said the person who shot the photo of the funnel cloud was at Smith Point County Park in Shirley looking north.

A severe thunderstorm warning for central Suffolk ended at 5:15 p.m. Monday, the weather service said.

Dan Losquadro, Brookhaven Town’s highway superintendent, said the tornado damage in Manorville was “not anywhere near as bad as I was anticipating.”

Damage was localized to around South Street and Dayton Avenue, where about a dozen trees fell into the roadway, he said. His department and crews from PSEG Long Island were on scene to help reopen the roads. A crew specializing in tree removal will remove “hanging limbs,” Losquadro said.

It was too soon to say how Hurricane Dorian — still hovering over the Bahamas — might affect Long Island, the weather service said.

Labor Day was wet with rain starting in Nassau County late Monday morning and in western Suffolk in the early afternoon, meteorologist Tim Morrin said.

Dry conditions return Tuesday lasting through the night. The high temperature for Tuesday will be in the mid 70s to about 80, with the cooler temps located on the twin forks, Murray said.

Tuesday’s lows will be in the upper 60s. On Wednesday the chance for showers and thunderstorms will return in the late afternoon with temperatures reaching into the lower 80s.

The chance of showers increases beginning late Thursday afternoon and increasing through the night into Friday, Murray said. The weather will also become gusty Thursday night into Friday, highest on the twin forks.

Hurricane Dorian might not impact Long Island until Friday, Murray said.

“As we start making mention of Dorian it is forecast to tract south and east of the area but basically we don’t know the exact details,” Murray said. “At some point late Friday into Saturday it’s going to past south and east of Long Island and with our local forecast, we’ll have some rain and increased surf, rough surf and dangerous rip currents and it could also mean dune erosion as well.”

Dorian, which had weakened to a Category 4 hurricane but remained “extremely dangerous,” crawled slowly west over the Bahamas on Monday, hammering Grand Bahama Island with what the National Hurricane Center called “catastrophic” winds and storm surge.

A Hurricane Center update at 9 p.m. said the storm was stationary over Grand Bahama Island with wind gusts of 165 miles per hour with “storm surge 12 to 18 feet above normal tide levels with higher destructive waves.” The report said the hazards will continue over Grand Bahama Island through Tuesday morning. The storm is expected to move slowly toward Florida next, forecasters said.

One former Long Islander in Delray Beach, on South Florida’s east coast, said Monday afternoon that Dorian was beginning to make itself felt. “The squall lines are starting to come in and the wind began picking up about an hour ago,” said Vincent McManus, former Nassau County fire marshal. McManus said he was not in an evacuation zone, but laid up with supplies including ice, food, flashlights and batteries. Two cars were gassed up, with extra gasoline in containers, he said.

About 35 miles to the north, in Jupiter, Eric Bordin, formerly of Old Bethpage, said wind and rain had increased, but had made no “meaningful impact” yet. He had extra flashlights, batteries and nonperishable food. “At this point it is hard to say what will happen and what to expect,” he said.

Bill Steenson, who grew up in Bellmore and lived in West Islip, has been in Florida for the past 20 years. “We haven’t been hit yet but everyone is preparing. Nothing to report yet except everyone is battening down.”

West Melbourne, where he now lives, it too far west for storm surge, but he’s worried about wind and heavy rains.

The hurricane was expected to move “dangerously close” to Florida’s east coast through Wednesday evening, with warnings issued for communities from South Florida north to Georgia. The hurricane is expected to move toward Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday.

Long Island residents should check weather.gov or the Hurricane Center’s website, Morrin said.

With Ellen Yan and Rachelle Blidner

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