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Forecast: Heavy rain, hurricane-force winds expected

A couple walks on a pier during fog

A couple walks on a pier during fog at Mitchell Park in Greenport on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Local governments spent Sunday preparing for a powerful nor’easter Monday that forecasters predict will buffet Long Island’s South Shore with hurricane-force winds, dump heavy rain across the entire region, and possibly flood streets in coastal communities.

In preparation for potential power outages and downed trees, PSEG Long Island officials said Sunday they have bolstered crews. The utility also urged residents to sign up for MyAlerts, an emergency text-messaging service to report blackouts and receive repair updates.

“We know how important having power is for our customers and we understand how frustrating it is to be in the dark,” John O’Connell, vice president of Transmission & Distribution at PSEG Long Island, said in a news release.

“That’s why we are proactively preparing for any potential outages by performing system checks on critical transmission & distribution equipment, ensuring the availability of critical materials, fuel and other supplies and getting our crews out and ready to respond as quickly and safely as possible.”

In a statement, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the strength of the storm — moving northeast from the south where it soaked large parts of Alabama — has led him to direct “all relevant state agencies to be on alert and ready to respond to whatever Mother Nature throws our way.”

Cuomo also warned residents of Long Island and New York City to avoid unnecessary travel.

Coastal flooding during high tide is forecast along with rain totals from 1 to 3 inches, with the National Weather Service issuing a coastal flood watch for northeast, southeast and southwest Suffolk County and southern Nassau County.

Port Authority officials urged travelers to contact their airlines for potential flight status changes.

A high-wind warning will begin at 1 a.m. Monday and continue through 1 a.m. Tuesday, said Brian Ciemnecki, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Upton.

The strongest winds are most likely to blow through starting Monday morning and continuing through the night, he said. Sustained gusts of 30 to 40 mph with some up to 70 mph are expected, with Long Island’s East End bearing the brunt of the strongest winds from the drawn-out system, Ciemenecki said.

“It’s going to be a long-duration wind event here,” he said.

On Sunday, town officials across Long Island sent crews out to prepare for possible flooding and trees snapped by powerful gusts.

In Long Beach, a city well-versed in the ravages a strong storm can bring, City Manager Jack Schnirman sounded a note of cautious optimism and said crews have cleaned out storm drains in preparation.

“We’re hoping for the best,” he said, “but we’re preparing for the worst.”

The city’s north side, due to its elevation and slope, is prone to flooding from the bay during heavy rain events, he said, urging residents to tie down or bring outdoor furniture inside ahead of the nor’easter.

In Brookhaven Town, Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro said he was mostly concerned with downed trees.

Work crews Friday inspected water pumps and sharpened chain saws in anticipation of the expected gusts.

“It’s nothing we’re not accustomed to but something we do prepare for,” Losquadro said. “We’re not expecting anything out of the ordinary.”

Freeport officials do not expect major flooding along the village’s canals and Nautical Mile. Mayor Robert Kennedy said in a statement that crews will be inspecting backflow preventers to make sure they’re operating properly ahead of the rain.

The village’s Office of Emergency Management is preparing a call-out to residents who live within the flood zone if conditions worsen, he said.

Town of North Hempstead highway crews will be on alert and prepared to answer any calls for downed trees, said town spokeswoman Carole Trottere.

“Our highway crews will make sure the roads are passable,” Trottere said. The town’s Highway and Public Safety departments will also monitor roads prone to flooding, particularly during high tide.

Hempstead Town spokesman Mike Deery said the town’s highway crews were ready, with storm drains cleared after the most recent snowfall.

Deery said boats have been secured in the South Shore marinas and the Army Corps has moved its cranes inland.

In an email sent to town residents, Islip officials urged residents to “expect high winds and heavy rainfall starting Sunday night and extending into Monday evening.”

The winds “could lead to downed trees and power lines, so residents should be prepared for power outages. The high winds, coupled with tidal surges, could create flood conditions in our coastal communities.”

Despite the dire weather warning, News 12 Long Island meteorologist Bruce Avery said it could be worse.

“It’s going to be a nor’easter, but the great news is that even though it’s going to be a really big storm we’re not talking about snowfall because the warm air is here,” Avery said.

Highs Monday are expected to be in the low 40s.

With Christine Chung, Scott Eidler, Deon J. Hampton and Lisa Irizarry

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