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New York town inundated with entire summer's worth of rain in one morning


NORTH BABYLON, N.Y. (AP) -- A record-setting rainstorm dumped more than a foot of water on parts of suburban New York in a matter of hours, turning highways into streams that stranded hundreds of drivers, flooded basements and caused at least one fatal crash.

"We've had another historic extreme weather event here," Steve Bellone, the Suffolk County Executive, said at a news conference Wednesday outside the North Babylon firehouse where dozens of stranded drivers were brought for shelter during the height of the storm.

The National Weather Service said a summer's worth of rain fell within a few hours - over 13 inches at MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma. That was more than the area's normal total for June, July and August of 11.75 inches.

More than 5 inches fell in just a one-hour period, from 5 to 6 a.m. Wednesday, said weather service meteorologist Joe Pollina. He said the previous state record for rainfall over a 24-hour period was 11.6 inches near Tannersville during Tropical Storm Irene three years ago.

Bellone said most municipal sewer systems can handle about 5 inches of rain in 24 hours. "What happened today was unprecedented," he said.

One person died when an SUV was hit by a tractor-trailer carrying waste oil on the Long Island Expressway near Dix Hills during the height of the storm, according to Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke. He said it appeared the SUV was driving slowly when it was hit by the larger vehicle. The person who died was in the SUV was not immediately identified; Burke said the body was burned beyond recognition.

No charges were immediately filed, but police said the weather-related crash was still under investigation.

Volunteer firefighters in communities across Long Island used trucks and equipment ordinarily used to fight brush fires to rescue stranded drivers. The trucks stand high off the ground and can maneuver through several feet of water.

On the Southern State Parkway in North Babylon, firefighters encountered approximately 50 vehicles either stuck in the rising waters or pulled off to an elevated apron on the side of the highway.

"We had occupants climbing out of windows because they couldn't open their doors," said Lt. Timothy Harrington, the first firefighter on scene. "Some of the water was over the vehicles' roofs. I've never seen anything like this before."

No injuries were reported among the stranded drivers, officials said.

James Piano, of Islip Terrace, was rescued by firefighters in North Babylon after his truck was swamped with waist-high water.

"That little Miata over there was floating in the middle lane, literally floating," Piano said.

By midmorning, the water subsided there and traffic began moving again along a road surface coated with a slippery-looking film of oil, dirt and grass.

Officials reported few power outages resulting from the storm.

Some south shore Long Island communities slammed by Superstorm Sandy nearly two years ago were experiencing certain flashbacks as roads were closed and some homeowners were dealing with flooded basements.

Gerard Kapetanakis said there was about four inches of rain in his basement in Lindenhurst. "There was so much water there was no place for it to go," said the construction worker.

Laura Cutuli, a nurse, never made it to her job Wednesday at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

Her stranded car was filling with water, so she had rolled down her windows to "rescue myself if I had to." Instead, firefighters aided her and other motorists.

"We were standing in the water," Cutuli said. She said it was cold, dark and "just surreal."

The storm dumped varying amounts of rain as it passed over the Northeast.

New York City ranged from under an inch in Central Park to over 3 inches at Kennedy Airport.

But parts of New Jersey also got more than 7 inches. Several homes were evacuated in Millville, New Jersey, because of flooding.

Baltimore got 6.3 inches, its highest rain total since 1933 and the second-highest since measurements were first taken in 1871.

In Rhode Island on Wednesday, manhole covers were swept off by water that filled the streets in Providence.

The same system dumped rain on Michigan earlier in the week. Portions of several Detroit-area freeways remained closed Wednesday morning as crews worked to remove mud, trash, abandoned vehicles and other debris.


Associated Press writer Kiley Armstrong contributed from New York City.

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skatulaki3 August 13 2014 at 1:16 PM

Employer demands, and the cost of living has removed all common sense in America. Dont worry about the Flood, Get to work, Dont worry about Dehydration keep working, Forget about the blizzard keep working ! Unsafe driving conditions ? Drive anyway got to keep working. Unsafe working conditions ? work or get fired ! Work work work got to be slaves to monthly corporate bills.

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9 replies
fullblowncustoms August 13 2014 at 3:08 PM

Wish it was near Albany, and Cuomo would DROWN !!!

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4 replies
steve August 13 2014 at 12:58 PM

It amaze me that idiot drivers would drive their multi cost vehicle in deep water. They can see drivers stranded and still drive into the deep water. If the dirty water get into the axle or transmission it can be costly. Many should have never left home.

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5 replies
kitharris1 August 13 2014 at 1:25 PM

this flood proves global wetting exists!

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2 replies
ChisnaAlaska kitharris1 August 13 2014 at 2:42 PM

Atmospheric water vapor levels are increasing. Have been for 30 years now..

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2 replies
gramargo ChisnaAlaska August 13 2014 at 4:08 PM

Maybe more water vapor where you are, but we've had over 3 years of very little rain in CA, and it's getting rather desperate as far as water sources are concerned. Wish we could have had a few of those extra inches New York got.

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bdgrizcp ChisnaAlaska August 13 2014 at 6:10 PM

It's not an overall pattern. Some places are experiencing the reverse. Both highs and lows are intensifying. As for the atmosphere, 100% relative humidity translates to roughly a maximum of 4% water vapor--at which point either it rains or you get fog. I dumbed down the explanation because everything in weather tends to be really complex, variable and hard to explain.

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Bruce kitharris1 August 13 2014 at 8:31 PM

It must be a local thing. Here in TX we're dry as always. Sure could use some of that wet stuff.

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1 reply
Mike Keefer Bruce August 13 2014 at 11:27 PM

The increase in average temperature moves the end of the Hadley cell further North. That also moves the desert that is created at the end of the Hadley with it. There is little to no rain fall at the North end of a Hadley cell in this hemisphere. Every degree Fahrenheit increase in the average global temperature moves the northern end of the Hadley cell 50 to 100 miles further North. In the last 30 years the average global temperature has increased over 1 degree Fahrenheit. So climate wise the desert has moved about a hundred miles North of what it was in the 1970's.

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Lettybits August 13 2014 at 1:03 PM

What do they expect? They live in low-lying areas of Long Island. It was the same scenario with Sandy. "I have a house on the ocean." Now, you have a house IN the ocean! Stop complaining. If you do't like the flooding, move! It's that simple!

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8 replies
Dago T August 13 2014 at 2:47 PM

So weird. Here in Dumb Moines I've never seen an August week like this. Perfect, low humidity. Cool nights. AC has been off for a couple weeks.

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3 replies
bosco August 13 2014 at 1:53 PM

It's God's way of saying, "So you don't believe in climate change, huh?"

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2 replies
rkind1 bosco August 13 2014 at 7:05 PM

Right it was called globval warming, because the ice caps were melting, but then they didnt and grew back so know you have climate change. It hasnt been 90 degrees in Long Island in July and it doesnt seem like it will in August either. that is unheard of. But if its too cool, too hot, heavy rain, not enough rain it's covered.

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Bruce bosco August 13 2014 at 8:45 PM

Climate change happens all the time. Man made climate change is a con brought to us by the likes of Al Gore and others. Then they try to sneak in "carbon credits". Who gets the most of them. The filthy rich. So what has changed? NOTHING! Just another con brought on by the left and many Democrats to do what their current pres is good at. "Community Antagonizer"; not for any good purpose but to create chaos.

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fred August 13 2014 at 1:01 PM

It's what happens when folks make fun of Phony Al Gore.......

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2 replies
ChisnaAlaska fred August 13 2014 at 2:44 PM

Another childish denier who isn't nearly as clever as they think they are....

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Bruce fred August 13 2014 at 8:48 PM

No, he's totally phony. Anyone that follows him or his illk are saps, plain and simple. He's a rich man who, through a few speeches, has become even richer.

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bwess8 August 13 2014 at 7:17 PM

Well what about all you folks with those S.U.Vs ( submerged , underwater , vehicle's ) you paid 70 grand and it don't go underwater .

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m4christ2 August 13 2014 at 3:23 PM

i believe our earth has gone into labor for the return of Christ Jesus. things will get harder and closer together and reap havoc on the land, as we wait. it's in the bible, read about it.

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2 replies
Blessed One X 20 m4christ2 August 13 2014 at 5:14 PM

They'd rather avoid that and call it "climate change" as there are more and more storms and events like this. Matthew 24 would explain much if they read it. God bless!

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eltrip m4christ2 August 13 2014 at 6:02 PM

Probably a breech birth...

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