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Nearly 70 mph winds lash LI, authorities say

A split tree limb in front of a

A split tree limb in front of a house on Elmore Street in Central Islip on Monday morning. Credit: James Carbone

Gusty winds that almost reached 70 mph lashed Long Island on Monday but began diminishing at night without having caused major mayhem, authorities said.

But in one of the notable incidents, a tree on Woodland Drive in East Islip toppled onto a Kia with a 77-year-old man and his 9-year-old grandson inside about 3:20 p.m., crushing the roof and the front windshield, Suffolk County police said. East Islip firefighters cut the doors off so the two could get out, police said. The driver was taken to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore to be treated for injuries caused by the windshield to his hands, police said, but his grandson, who had been in the back seat, was unharmed.

Several thousand electricity customers lost power on Long Island, a figure that was under 400 at 10 p.m., PSEG Long Island reported on its outage map. The hardest hit area was Hicksville, where at one point late in the day 755 customers were without power, and traffic lights were out on Old Country Road, prompting police to set up flares and direct traffic, authorities said. By 10 p.m., the number of customers without power was under 70, the utility said.

The high wind warning expired at 9 p.m. and winds were expected to die down overnight, with gusts of up to 30 predicted for Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.

The gusts in the wee hours of Monday morning were reported at 66 mph in Bayville and 59 mph in Syosset, the weather service said. Later in the morning, Orient saw one of 69 mph; Shinnecock, 57; Shirley, 52; and Wantagh, 51.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the high winds caused more than 61,000 outages statewide and that utility and communications crews, along with state crews, the National Guard and out-of-state contractors, have been deployed to help clear debris and restore service. The state's emergency operations center has been activated, he said.

"Mother Nature gave us another test but everyone did what they needed to do to mitigate the impact of this severe storm," Cuomo said in a news release. "The preparation we did in this case paid off, but even one day without power is a hardship and we are working closely with the utilities to restore power as quickly as possible. We hope to have 95 percent power restored by the end of tomorrow. Some parts of the state are still seeing dangerous conditions and I continue to urge New Yorkers to use caution when traveling."

Due to strong winds, empty trailers and tandem tractor trailers were banned on Port Authority and NYC MTA Bridges until the high wind warning expired at 9 p.m. State Police issued more than 70 citations  to violators of the ban, according to Cuomo's office.

Nassau police had no reports of serious incidents due to winds.

Suffolk police reported several downed trees and at least one road  was closed due to downed power lines on Monday morning: Terry Road, near Jericho Turnpike in Smithtown, according to Suffolk police. “We have had a handful of incidents . . . of trees down, power lines down or sparking,” a police spokesman said.

Air traffic was delayed across the mid-Atlantic region Monday morning. At LaGuardia Airport, there was a ground delay program, with some arriving flights delayed an average of nearly three hours. There were general departure delays of 30 to 45 minutes. At Kennedy Airport, there were general departure delays of less than 15 minutes. Newark Airport had arrival delays averaging more than three and a half hours. 

A  gale warning is in effect until 4 a.m. Tuesday for waters off Long Island. 

Several agencies issued wind-related warnings. The Long Island Rail Road had urged riders to be careful on platforms and staircases and monitor for train times. PSEG Long Island warned customers not to touch downed wires and to report any to 800-490-0075. When traffic signals are out, drivers should treat intersections as all-way stops, the state Department of Transportation said.

Wednesday should have highs near 32, with a good chance of snow overnight, the National Weather Service said. Nassau may see less than an inch, but western Suffolk could see 1 to 1.5 inches while points east of Ronkonkoma could see 2 to 2.5 inches, said meteorologist Brian Ciemnecki at the service's Upton office.

Thursday should be sunny, in the mid-30s. Friday, the first day of March, is expected to  see evening showers.

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