End of the world as we know it?

For the second time in three weeks, a massive summer thunderstorm Wednesday spun off a tornado, snarled the morning commute and left behind a trail of debris, delays and dismay.

End of the world as we know it?

Like the July 18 storm that blanketed the area with gargantuan puddles and caused a twister in Islip Terrace, Wednesday's had people convinced that the island was in the midst of significant climate change -- a concern that was quickly dismissed by meteorologists.

It wasn't just the tornado in Brooklyn -- the first in recorded history in the borough -- it was the huge quantities of rain that flooded basements and stranded rail and road commuters from Mineola to Midtown.

"The rain is different. Now it comes down faster," said Emma Citera, of Valley Stream, who, with her boyfriend, Bill Witteck, dragged a soaked couch from her garage and into the yard to dry.

"The weather is changing all over the world," said Witteck, of Valley Stream, a retired New York City firefighter.

The National Weather Service late Wednesday confirmed that an EF2 tornado, with wind speeds reaching 111 to 135 mph, touched down in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, just after 6:30 a.m. It was the first tornado to land in Brooklyn and the sixth to hit New York City since the weather service began keeping records in 1960.

An EF2 tornado is the fourth-strongest of six types of twisters on the Enhanced Fujita tornado damage scale.

Meteorologists, however, didn't think Wednesday's weather was all that unusual. They said it was the result of a weak disturbance that ushered in a low-pressure system tinged with a warm, moist front.

"Typically we get some severe storms this time of year," said meteorologist Joe Pollina of the National Weather Service station in Upton. "It may seem a little unusual that we're getting them back to back, but I wouldn't say that they're out of the ordinary."

It was a split-personality day: The region was drenched in the morning, then baked in the afternoon amid heat and high humidity. Temperatures reached highs of 92 at Long Island MacArthur Airport, 93 at Kennedy Airport, 95 at LaGuardia Airport and 90 at Central Park.

More than 2 inches of rain fell on Nassau, causing floods on major highways and gnashing of teeth among Long Island Rail Road riders.

Flooding in Bayside, Mineola and New Hyde Park suspended the Port Washington branch and created delays averaging 30 minutes on the Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, Oyster Bay and Montauk branches.

Sarah Ritter, 35, an executive assistant from Great Neck, gave up on trying to get to work after several hours. When a Penn Station-bound train pulled out of Bayside at 11:30 a.m., she stayed on the platform and waited for an eastbound train home.

"I work in Midtown on the east side, and I'd probably have to walk from Penn Station. The earliest I'd get there is 1 p.m.," Ritter said.

At the Mineola station, Linda Dershowitz, 55, of Manhattan, said she took the bus to Penn Station, where commuters screamed because subways were not running. "People were animals," she said.

She arrived in Mineola to find the parking lot was under water and scores of passengers were waiting for trains delayed by flooded tracks.

"I've used the train system all my life and I've never seen it like this," she said.

MTA and LIRR officials said they would investigate the flooding and work on minimizing the effects of future storms.

Roads in Valley Stream, Bethpage, Levittown and Massapequa were flooded, Nassau police said. Sections of the Long Island Expressway and state parkways were under water, state officials reported.

Flights at Kennedy Airport were delayed up to 90 minutes.

Suffolk County issued water quality advisories for 67 of its 195 beaches. Nassau beaches were closed.

George Closs wasn't complaining. Closs, president of All Storm Drains Inc. in Valley Stream, yesterday removed about 200 gallons of water from one basement.

"Business is booming," he said. "Every time it rains, I get lots of calls."

A storm like yesterday's results from "volatile" air masses, said Scott Stephens, a meteorologist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Other than being a little further north than usual, he didn't consider the storm unusual.

"You're going to see those from time to time," he said. "Tornado Alley is not moving to the northeast."

Newsday.com

Last Mod: 10 Ağustos 2007, 00:48
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