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Storm sputters, LI catches break

Monster storm moves through Juniper Valley Park area

Monster storm moves through Juniper Valley Park area in Middle Village, Queens. (July 26, 2012) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

All the warning signs were there. But in the end, a major storm system that wreaked havoc from the Great Lakes through the Ohio Valley to the Lower Hudson did not have a big impact on Long Island.

Records indicate that the strongest wind gust on Long Island during the storms Thursday was 26 mph in Montauk, with gusts of 25 mph recorded at Long Island MacArthur Airport at 1:56 p.m., despite a prediction of wind gusts as high as 80 mph.

During the bulk of thunderstorm activity Thursday, recorded winds were relatively light -- often in the single digits.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service said Friday that most, if any, big storm-related damage was to the north and west of Long Island. In fact, the strongest wind gust recorded at LaGuardia Airport was 49 mph at 7:51 p.m., according to weather service records.

The Long Island Power Authority said about 300 residents were without electricity Friday morning, most of them in Manorville. Estimates were most customers would be restored and back on line by about 9-9:30 a.m.

At the height of storm activity Thursday evening, LIPA had reported almost 3,600 without power -- the bulk of those outages, about 2,800, in Hempstead Town. The disruption started when a tree fell on power lines in Cedarhurst, LIPA spokesman Mark Gross said.

"It was well-advertised, came across large real estate and had a lot of things going for it in the upper atmosphere," weather service observation program leader Tim Morrin said Friday morning about the storm. But, Morrin said, the storm system had lost most of its momentum by the time it reached us -- and, he said, the shape of the storm held the worst of it north.

He said the warnings issued Wednesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo were because the weather service's storm prediction center saw a major storm covering a large area over several states and a storm track covering a number of large cities and anticipated the potential for major damage.

Morrin said Friday morning that two tornadoes, 371 high-wind reports -- that is, winds of at least 58 mph -- and 37 hail reports, issued when hail at least 1-inch in diameter is reported, were issued during storm activity Thursday. But, he said, more than 75 percent of those reports were generated in Indiana, Ohio, western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, northern New Jersey and the Lower Hudson Valley.

When it came to Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Morrin said, the storm system "pretty much exhausted itself out."

Nassau County had activated its nonemergency hotline as of 6 p.m. Thursday, and Suffolk activated its emergency operations center at 4 p.m.

To prepare for the storm, LIPA also had extra crews out and had hired local contractors to help in emergencies.

"We brought in extra tree trimmers," Gross said, "and we've also brought in extra call center staff . . . for when customers call with power outages. We'll have workers working extended shifts around the clock to restore power."

Gross said 439 line personnel and 120 tree trimmers were at hand for emergencies. LIPA has requested another 450 workers from power companies and contractors off the Island but canceled that after assessing storm damage.

On the Long Island Rail Road, the weather caused signal problems for the 8:21 p.m. train from Oyster Bay to Jamaica. LIRR forecast delays of up to 45 minutes. The 6:41 p.m. train from Hunterspoint Avenue to Oyster Bay was canceled at Locust Valley. The train, originally due at Oyster Bay at 7:56 p.m., had been delayed because of a tree across the tracks.

Some flights arriving at LaGuardia and Kennedy airports faced delays of at least an hour-and-a-half, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Some departures also were affected, the FAA said.

Lightning may have hit a Middle Island house, where a man, 18, reported feeling a shock, Suffolk police said Thursday. He was taken to the hospital as a precaution, police said.

Only a quarter of an inch of rain fell in Farmingdale, far from the heavy soaking forecast, the service said.

Showers and thunderstorms remain possible Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the weather service said. Nevertheless, the minimal damage caused by storms Thursday was a big relief to Long Islanders, who awoke to overcast but sunny skies on Friday morning.

With Ellen Yan, William Murphy, Patricia Kitchen, Nicholas Spangler, Alison Barnwell and Scott Eidler

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