As the calendar creeps into March, the North Shore of Long Island is not quite experiencing spring weather just yet. The entire East Coast of the United States was battered by Winter Storm Riley, which arrived during the morning hours March 2, with a combination of high winds, rapid rainfall and shear duration causing severe flooding and power outages locally in addition to several casualties elsewhere.
The nor’easter, or a storm along the East Coast of North America with winds over the coastal area blowing from the northeast, according to the National Weather Service, left more than 128,000 PSEG Long Island customers without power over the weekend. As of 8:30 p.m. March 4, the utility said more than 99 percent of its affected customers had power restored.
“Nor’easters are always a challenge and something that is a concern for us here, particularly when it comes to issues like power outages, flooding and coastal erosion,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said during the afternoon March 2 while providing an update to residents about the storm. “This storm in particular is a challenge for a couple of reasons. You are combining here high winds and a significant amount of rainfall. When you have those two things happening at the same time you are creating an environment for power outages, downed power lines, downed trees blocking roadways. Those are all the things we are monitoring, watching out for.”
Bellone said he had been in touch with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) office, and the state had offered to provide Suffolk with any additional equipment or personnel it required to effectively deal with Riley.
Much of Suffolk County experienced between 2 ½ and four inches of rainfall during the storm, according to the National Weather Service. Wind gusts in Suffolk reached as high as 78 mph in Middle Island, 51 mph in East Northport and 43 in Miller Place.
Port Jefferson Village, or Drowned Meadow as it was originally called in past centuries, endured substantial flooding. One Facebook poster joked Main Street in Port Jeff resembled Venice, Italy.
“We have flooding downtown folks and are now at high tide,” the village posted on its official Facebook page at about 11 a.m. March 2, adding several village streets had to be closed due to flooding. “We will keep you posted. Stay safe!”
There will be no rest for the weary hoping the passing of Riley would signal a shift toward spring weather, as the National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for much of the region March 5 calling for a winter storm that could bring several inches of snow beginning late March 6 into March 7.