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LI hit with rain, wind on 1st day of winter

Cars go through large puddles on Willis ave

Cars go through large puddles on Willis ave in Mineola, early this morning. (Dec. 21, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Rain and strong winds hit Long Island early Friday -- the first day of winter -- flooding some roads and causing power outages before giving way to partly sunny skies.

Most of the Island got less than an inch of rain, but some South Shore communities recovering from superstorm Sandy experienced minor flooding due to a combination of wind gusts up to 60 mph and higher-than-normal tides, officials said.

In Babylon Town, wind-whipped rain pelted coastal communities but caused little lasting damage, said Gil Hanse, the town's director of emergency preparedness.

"It's coming over the bulkheads with southeast exposure, but mostly it's on the roadways," Hanse said in the morning.

Power lines fell in some areas. At 8 a.m., more than 13,000 customers were without electricity, said Mark Gross, spokesman for the Long Island Power Authority.

That number dwindled to less than 800 by 8 p.m., LIPA's website showed. Gross said full power was expected to be restored by some time Friday night.

He described the damage as routine for a small storm, and said there were no reports of power lines replaced after Sandy being downed.

Flooding hampered the morning commute on the Long Island Expressway at Exit 38 and on the Southern State Parkway near Exits 17 and 18, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Oyster Bay Branch service on the Long Island Rail Road was temporarily suspended in both directions during the morning rush after a tree fell across the tracks west of the Locust Valley station, the railroad said.

Temperatures are expected to drop in the next few days.

The holidays could be white, with a 60 percent chance of snow falling the night before Christmas and a 30 percent chance on Christmas Day, the Upton-based National Weather Service said.

With Gary Dymski

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