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PSEG: Thousands still without power after ‘damaging storm’

Some scenes from around Long Island after overnight winds downed trees and power lines. PSEG Long Island reported about 37,000 customers without electricity at one point overnight, and about 21,000 as of 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, with Nassau County hardest hit with about 20,000 customers without power. (Credit: Stringer News Service)

A storm system that blew through overnight Wednesday into Thursday brought heavy rain, thunderstorms and strong winds that toppled trees and power lines, knocking out power to tens of thousands of Long Islanders.

A line of rainstorms followed by a series of thunderstorms moved eastward Wednesday, an “uncommon occurrence” in late February, the National Weather Service said. The system was the same one that brought about two dozen tornadoes to parts of the East Coast.

Gusts as high as 64 mph were recorded at Eatons Neck, with 54 mph in Shirley and 52 mph at Long Island MacArthur Airport, the National Weather Service said. As for rain, Merrick saw 1.62 inches Wednesday into Thursday, and the airport, 1.26 inches.

Trees and power lines tumbled, leaving more than 98,000 PSEG Long Island customers without power between Wednesday and Thursday mornings, and by Thursday at 9:30 p.m., 3,938 still had no power, according to the utility.

“It was a damaging storm,” said PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir, noting the North Shore — including Huntington, Oyster Bay and North Hempstead — were particularly hard hit by downed trees and wires.

PSEG was telling some customers their power might not be restored until 9 p.m. Friday, but Weir said the company expected to have most of the outages repaired well before that time.

“We are doing everything we can to get the cleanup work done sooner than that,” he said. The company had hundreds of in-house crews and on-Island contractors, including tree trimmers and field technicians, to respond to the damage.

Most of the damage was to distribution lines connecting power to homes and businesses, but Weir said the storm also damaged a small number of higher-voltage transmission lines.

All schools in the Jericho district, as well as Huntington High School were closed due to power outages, officials said.

At least the forecast looks better.

News 12 Long Island meteorologist Rich Hoffman said clouds will linger during the nighttime hours Thursday and that overnight lows will be in the 30s, with wind chill values making it feel more like 20 to 25 degrees.

Friday works out to be sunny and breezy again, with daily highs in the upper 30s and low 40s, Hoffman said.

Wind gusts between 15 and 20 mph can be expected into Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

The good news is that conditions will be much nicer for the weekend, Hoffman said, with sunshine and calm winds for most of Saturday and Sunday.

With Rachel Uda

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