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Amid drought conditions, a deluge hits LI

Two cars are seen stalled in the water

Two cars are seen stalled in the water at West Main Street and Elliot Avenue in Smithtown on Thursday, caused by heavy rain on Sept. 10, 2015. Credit: James Carbone

Long Island finally got rain. A lot of it.

Thursday's system dumped several inches of rain in some areas, especially in southeastern Nassau and western Suffolk, the National Weather Service said, leading to stranded vehicles, flooding of side streets and temporary closing of major roads -- including parts of the Sunrise Highway and Long Island Expressway.

Flash flooding was reported in areas including Wantagh, which saw 4.1 inches of rain by 5 p.m., as well as Greenport and East Northport, the weather service said. Flooded basements, stranded cars and underwater roadways were reported in Wantagh earlier in the day, said meteorologist Joe Pollina with the Upton-based service.

But after Thursday's deluge, the storm system should move out by midmorning, forecasters said.

Despite the inconvenience, the downpour should make at least a dent in what News 12 Long Island meteorologist Rich Hoffman said was close to a 10-inch precipitation deficit since Jan. 1. That's at Long Island MacArthur Airport, the official location for the Island's weather measurements. By 8 p.m., 1.81 inches had fallen at MacArthur, compared with 2.55 inches in Farmingdale.

Since May, the Island has been considered in moderate drought, the least intensive drought category of the U.S. Drought Monitor -- with the exception of Nassau's short-lived downgrade last week to abnormally dry.

Thursday, Suffolk County police received several reports of cars stranded on flooded streets, a spokeswoman said. Early in the afternoon, police and the state Department of Transportation temporarily closed all eastbound lanes of the Long Island Expressway at Exit 55 due to flooding. Across Suffolk, such conditions were the norm Thursday, with reports of floodwaters rushing up to house-level in North Babylon.

Nassau County police said Sunrise Highway was temporarily closed eastbound and westbound in the vicinity of Sunrise Mall earlier Thursday. Also, police said, the Massapequa Fire Department was called to help rescue stranded motorists from their vehicles.

The heavy rain also caused delays of more than two hours for arriving flights at both Kennedy and LaGuardia airports Thursday night with even longer delays earlier, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Power outages were scattered earlier in the day, but tapered off, with PSEG Long Island reporting only 346 customers without power as of 9:45 p.m.

With additional heavy rain likely overnight, a flash flood watch is in effect for Long Island until 6 a.m. Friday. But then the Island should dry out, with some residual showers on the East End through midmorning.

The next chance for widespread showers comes Saturday night into Sunday, the weather service said, with a complex storm system coming from the west.

With Laura Blasey

and Gary Dymski

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