A large and slow-moving thunderstorm cell that drenched the South Fork with heavy rains on Tuesday also snarled travel with flooded roads and knocked out power to more than 1,200 homes.
According to the Long Island Power Authority, more than 1,200 homes in Southampton and East Hampton towns were left without power on Tuesday, most in East Quogue, due to multiple lighting strikes. All had their power restored by Tuesday night.
The National Weather Service confirmed that more than 3 inches of rain fell between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesday. In Westhampton Beach, 3.42 inches fell, according to meteorologist Lauren Nash.
On Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Nash said hail stones the size of a quarter were reported in Hampton Bays.
Flooding on roadways caused more widespread problems. Numerous streets in Southampton Town were rendered impassable for extended periods on Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve already gotten more rain today than we did during all of Hurricane Sandy—it’s quite a mess” Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor said on Tuesday afternoon. “At one point this afternoon we had more than 40 spots throughout the town that were impassable due to ponding of water on roadways.”
A portion of Millstone Road in Noyac collapsed because it was undermined by fast-flowing runoff. The road is still passable.
Mr. Gregor urged motorists in future situations to not drive through areas of standing water on roadways because the depth is difficult to determine and could cause vehicles to stall.
“Turn around, don’t drown,” he said. “We had to pull out one lady who was taking a half a bag of garbage to the transfer station in Hampton Bays and drove into the lake that was on the road by the police station. So, to get rid of a half a bag of garbage she ruined her BMW.
“If you can’t see the bottom of the mud puddle in front of you, don’t go through it,” he added.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has closed shellfishing in most East End bays as a result of the heavy rains, which can wash bacteria into surface waters that are ingested by shellfish. The closure will remain in effect until water testing shows safe bacteria levels again.
At around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, lightning struck a communications tower at the Southampton Town Police Department’s headquarters in Hampton Bays, knocking out the department’s dispatch system for about 30 minutes.
Chief Robert Pearce said that the department’s 911 emergency reporting lines remained operational and that dispatching of town police officers was shifted to the department’s mobile command center van, typically used for remote emergencies or special events.
“We’re kind of in emergency mode over here right now, until we can get everything back on line,” Chief Pierce said shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday.
East Hampton Town Police Chief Edward Ecker Jr. said that East Hampton roads remained passable, despite some larger puddles that formed during heavier periods of rain on Tuesday.
“I think every place is a challenge for the drains,” he said. “One car got stuck in a large puddle on Montauk Boulevard. All roads saw an abnormal amount of rain.”