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Severe thunderstorm watch for LI ends

Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Thunderstorms moved east into Long Island on Friday night bringing rain of up to 2 inches an hour in a continuation of the stormy weather that trapped motorists in morning floods.

A severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Nassau and parts west ended at 9 p.m., said meteorologist Melissa DiSpigna with the National Weather Service in Upton.

“It’s pretty narrow band of thunderstorms right now so maybe two to three hours of rain and thunderstorms, and then they’ll be moving east,” DiSpigna said. “Anything overnight will be more isolated.”

Suffolk would still get rain but should escape the brunt of the line of storm clouds, meteorologists said. “The line is starting to lose some of its intensity,” DiSpigna said.

The morning rain brought as much as 4 inches of water to Long Island, causing havoc as roadways flooded.

In Farmingdale, resourceful firefighters, including a heavy machine operator, used a payloader to rescue two people whose car became partially submerged in Farmingdale Friday morning during the quick-hit torrential rainstorms that struck the Island.

The stranded man and woman were pulled to safety through the sunroof of their car by firefighters who got to the vehicle in the bucket of a Farmingdale Department of Public Works payloader, said volunteer firefighter Phil LoNigro, 55, who shot a video of the scene. No one was injured.

The midmorning rescue took place at the railroad trestle on Merritts Road near Fulton Street.

A warm front that moved in Friday morning created an unstable atmosphere, sparking the first round of storms, which also led to a waterfall cascading onto the LIRR tracks in Great Neck.

Forecasters said there was a big range in rainfall numbers from the morning storms — from less than an inch to nearly 4 inches — with the heaviest rain falling along the Long Island Expressway and northward, in central and eastern Suffolk.

“That’s what happens when you get thunderstorms like this in August,” said David Stark, another meteorologist at the National Weather Service. “This is actually the time of year that we typically see this.”

The highest amount reported was in East Shoreham, with 3.8 inches, he said.

The stranded vehicle in Farmingdale was one of three that got stuck when floodwaters rose quickly in the dip under the trestle, LoNigro said. He estimated the water depth at 3 feet.

He said the other motorists were able to get out of their vehicles and reach higher ground.

Two cars were submerged in floodwaters on the Southern State Parkway on the border of North Lindenhurst and West Babylon, temporarily blocking access to eastbound Exit 35.

Deputy Chief Ryan Tortoso of the Farmingdale department had a bit of advice for motorists confronting possible floods.

“Just like everybody else says, ‘If you see a large pool of water, and you’re not sure, don’t go in it,’ ” he said. “Just turn around.”

Though there’s a chance for a shower in the morning, Saturday should be mostly dry with afternoon highs in the 80s. Sunday looks dry and more comfortable, with highs again in the 80s, Stark said.

With Ellen Yan


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