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Two storms down trees, utility poles in Nassau County

Emergency crews work near Hempstead and Woodfield avenues

Emergency crews work near Hempstead and Woodfield avenues in West Hempstead Thursday night.   Photo Credit: Jim Staubitser

Strong winds downed trees and utility poles in West Hempstead and Franklin Square Thursday night as two storm systems moved quickly across Nassau, causing power outages, authorities said.

Dozens of weather-related calls poured from the two communities, including one complaint of winds blowing a trampoline into a vehicle on Dogwood Avenue in Franklin Square, Nassau police said.

No serious flooding and no injuries were reported, authorities said.

Almost 1,600 customers were without power at one point in the area as a line of poles and trees fell by Cornwell and Hempstead avenues, but crews were working overnight to restore power, a PSEG Long Island spokeswoman said. 

The havoc was concentrated in a small area — Dogwood, Cornwell and Hempstead avenues — where about five or six trees fell, including mature oaks, leading firefighters to wonder if a "microburst" had hit the area, said Capt. Mike Joyce of the Lakeview Fire Department.

A microburst is a downdraft, or sinking air, in a thunderstorm that is less than 2.5 miles in scale and can cause as much damage as a tornado, sometimes more, according to the National Weather Service.  

"These were big trees that came down," Joyce said. 

The National Weather Service said gusts of about 30 to 40 mph accompanied one storm that came from the north into Nassau about 8:10 p.m., and that was followed by a storm cell that came from Queens about 8:30 p.m.

But they moved through quickly and there were no reports of significant damage and flooding, said meteorologist Joe Pollina at the service's Upton office. He said there was no indication a microburst had caused the damage, but he was going to investigate what happened in the West Hempstead area.

Joyce said one tree hit the second floor of the back of a house, bringing wires down, but the occupants were on the first floor in the front of the house and escaped without injury. Another tree blocked a Southern State Parkway exit near Hempstead Avenue, he said. Photos from the scene show one vehicle crushed under a tree and a splintered tree splayed across a roadway.

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