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Jose turns northeast, still a danger to LI coast

State and local officials, at a news conference at the Long Island Welcome Center in Dix Hills, on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, discussed preparations for Hurricane Jose,  which is expected to come close enough to Long Island to impact the area.   Credit: Newsday / Rachelle Blidner; James Carbone, Barry Sloan

Hurricane Jose, weakened but not knocked out, took a swipe at Long Island on Tuesday, flooding shorelines, eating away at dunes and creating most of its havoc on the East End.

But for much of the Island, as the outer bands of the storm lingered into Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, it was “just an average, run-of-the-mill nor’easter the further west you go,” said meteorologist Pat Maloit at the National Weather Service’s Upton office.

“The big issue everywhere is the storm surge and the high surf and the beach erosion,” he said.

A coastal flood warning was still in effect to 1 p.m. Wednesday for Nassau’s South Shore bays and Suffolk’s shores, except western Suffolk. A coastal flood advisory was in effect to 2 p.m. Wednesday for western Suffolk’s North Shore, and to 2 p.m. Wednesday for Nassau’s North Shore.

Dangerous surf, with wave heights of 10 to 15 feet, was expected at ocean beaches through Thursday, with strong rip currents lasting into the weekend.

Lindenhurst Village Mayor Mike Lavorata said Tuesday night it didn’t seem like Jose would bring flooding to the low-lying community “any worse than usual” from other storms. But, he said, officials are on stand by.

“Every storm is serious but fortunately, this seems to be minimal rain and some wind,” Lavorata said. “If it intensifies in any way, we’ll be on top of it.”

For many inland, the system brought showers and strong breezes Tuesday but little of the weather drama forecast as the Category One hurricane had moved up to the region.

Jose made its anticipated turn to the north-northeast late Tuesday, bringing gusty winds and dangerous conditions to beach areas — but mainly out east and offshore, forecasters said.

No major flood damage was reported Tuesday and the potential power outages that prompted PSEG to bring in outside workers to stand by for disaster, had yet to materialize.

Jay Engle, with the weather service in Upton, said Tuesday night that the storm’s eastward direction reduced its direct impact on Long Island. The track “made a big difference,” he said.

As of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, just .53 inches of rain was recorded in Upton and gusts maxed out for the Island at 40 mph at Jones Beach.

Wednesday morning, the storm could still produce showers and churn up the seas but the main hazard was still coastal flooding, the weather service said, with 1 to 2 feet of inundation expected during high tide Tuesday night into Wednesday.

That could be up to 2 1⁄2 feet in the typically more vulnerable areas across Peconic and Gardiners Bays.

Jose was to start gradually weakening on Wednesday, when it was expected to resume tropical storm status, according to the National Hurricane Center.

About 9 p.m. Tuesday, East Hampton Highway Superintendent Stephen Lynch said there were “no problems” and that “weather is mild with a mild breeze” and that “Jose is 190 miles east of Montauk and tropical storm winds project out about 210 miles, so I don’t expect it to get much worse.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman declared a limited state of emergency on Tuesday after several wash overs of Dune Road. The affected area was between the Ponquogue Bridge and the Shinnecock Inlet.

But Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he was taking no chances after seeing the devastation in Texas and Florida by hurricanes to the south.

He had deployed 100 members of the National Guard, 13 members of the New York Task Force-2 Urban Search and Rescue Team, and 24 High-Axle vehicles. Equipment and essentials also were sent to the Island including Zodiac boats, almost 1,000 feet of inflatable aqua dam, 128,256 bottles and cans of water, 31,056 ready-to-eat meals and 229 generators, Cuomo said.

“We know how dangerous, volatile and unpredictable extreme weather can be, which is why it’s always better to be ready for anything,” Cuomo had said earlier Tuesday. “With all that we have witnessed across the country the past few weeks, there is no reason to take chances when we have the time and ability to be prepared.”The surf and winds did bring out some who wanted to see the power of Mother Nature.

At Smith Point County Park in Shirley, a few dozen people meandered along the boardwalk and took photographs on Tuesday. Retired baker Domenick Delgaudio, 74, made the trip from his Oakdale home to see the ocean, leaving his wife to view the waves from their car.

“It’s awesome just to see the ocean churning and rolling,” he said. His jacket flapped in the wind and he had to hold the hood over his head, but Delgaudio was content, saying “as rough as it is, it’s kind of peaceful.”

Jose also had an impact on South Shore businesses.

Freeport’s Nautical Mile resembled Florida’s Key West right before Hurricane Irma, with little movement and tons of parking along the restaurant-lined street.

“They listen to the news and they say the flood’s coming,” said Tony Terzulli, manager of the Two Cousins Fish Market, “and people don’t come down here.”

For a Jose adventure, two couples brought a picnic lunch full of heroes, a beach umbrella and a bungee cord to tie it to the boardwalk railing of the park.

But the winds proved too much, and Toni Zalak and her friend Patty Yalamas left the stuff in their sport utility vehicle as they exhorted their husbands to take their photos with the waves behind them.

“No matter how bad the storm gets, no matter how high the waves get, I’m going to hang onto you,” Zalak, a Patchogue retiree, told Yalamas of Farmingville.

All state beaches on Long Island also were closed to swimming.

At Jones Beach, by Tuesday morning the sand area from Field 6 to Field 1 was “completely covered with water” and some buildings and equipment flooded following the high tide about 8 a.m., said George Gorman, state parks deputy regional director for Long Island.

Some “minor to moderate” beach erosion also occurred at Robert Moses State Park in Babylon, Gorman said. At Hither Hills State Park in Montauk some dunes had eroded.

Concerns about flooding were expected to continue into Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, Gorman said.

“The water went right up to the dunes and some dunes eroded a bit” at Hither Hills, he said. The real extent of any damage would not be assessed until the storm passes, he added.

With Patricia Kitchen, Ellen Yan, Emily C. Dooley, Mark Harrington, Joan Gralla, Rachelle Blidner, Denise Bonilla and William Murphy

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