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Story - News

Jul 27, 2010 6:14 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Severe thunderstorm hits Springs; many without power

Jul 27, 2010 6:14 PM

A fast moving thunderstorm roared through Springs last Wednesday night at about 6:45 p.m., downing tree limbs and power lines and snarling traffic.

The storm began with thunder and lightning that preceded a torrential downpour and 
hail that measured up to an inch in diameter, according to 
Brandon Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Mr. Smith, who was working the night of the storm, said The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Long Island until 11 p.m. Wednesday after a possible waterspout was seen in New Suffolk. Mr. Smith said the waterspout indicated circular winds, but they dissipated soon after it was spotted.

“That feature dissipated very quickly, within minutes,” he said. “By the time the storm got to East Hampton, all that rotation was no longer evident.”

The storm, which lasted only between two and three minutes, packed a punch. Winds ranged from 80 to 100 miles per hour during the storm, which was classified as a “microburst,” according to Mr. Smith, which is an area of very strong “downdrafts” during a thunderstorm.

“A microburst can be stronger and more destructive than a tornado because there is more damage over a larger area,” he said.

But tornado or not, Springs residents were still reeling from the damage even days after the storm. On Wednesday, downed trees in the storm’s wake effectively cut off Springs north of Woodbine Drive.

As of Thursday morning, there were 2,043 customers without power in East Hampton Town, with the concentration of outages in Springs, according to the Long Island Power Authority, and power was not restored until 7 or 8 p.m. on Thursday night. There were also 42 reported outages in Southampton Town.

At about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, traffic was backed up on Three Mile Harbor Road in the vicinity of Woodbine Drive. Springs-Fireplace Road was also blocked near Woodbine Drive, and Old Stone Highway was blocked at Landing Lane by a fallen tree. Trees also blocked School Street and portions of Gardiner Avenue.

A large sailboat broke free of its mooring and came to rest on the western jetty at Three Mile Harbor.

Long Island Power Authority and East Hampton Town crews were at the scene, clearing limbs and rerouting traffic.

On Friday evening, crews were still clearing trees from Woodbine Drive, and residents were just starting to relax after days of heavy cleanup.

Sheila and Speedy Downs, of Woodbine Drive, said they hired five workers to work all day on Thursday and Friday to clear the remains of about 20 trees that had fallen on their property. On Friday evening, a friend was still vacuuming their pool to retrieve the shattered remnants of a glass table that had ended up there, along with all of their lawn furniture. A wrought iron fence that surrounds their backyard was crushed where a large tree had fallen on it.

Mr. Downs said that when the rain first started on Wednesday night, he got up from the living room to bring in the cushions from their patio furniture, and by the time he reached the back door, he could see a wall of rain coming toward him. When he looked out onto the back patio, his umbrella and patio chairs were in the air, far above his head, he said.

“If there’s a hell, that’s what it’s like,” he said. “We were there.”

Ms. Downs said the sound of the hail on the roof was like a freight train going through their front yard. The Downses’ front yard, once shaded by tall, leafy trees was now exposed. Trunks of branchless trees looked like “giant toothpicks” sticking 20 feet into the sky, Mr. Downs said.

Mr. Downs said after the brunt of the storm had passed, he went outside and could taste salt in the air from the bay nearby.

Mr. Smith said three to four storms passed through the area within an hour and a half on Wednesday night, but the damage from this particularly isolated thunderstorm probably covered only a 3- to 5-mile radius, centered in Springs.

He said the humid, unstable air hanging over the area throughout the month of July has made the last two or three weeks “extremely busy” in terms of storms coming through, but that the summer as a whole is on track with the number of storms that occurred last year.

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By HB 4 Life (72), Hampton Bays on Jul 22, 10 9:51 AM
The scariest night of my life. It could have been worse!
By gypsy222 (20), East Hampton on Jul 22, 10 10:32 AM
HB 4 Life - Wow. What a fine mood we are in.
By hmmmm (3), sag harbor on Jul 22, 10 4:05 PM
that last paragraph is not even a sentance.
By fishy (92), East Hampton on Jul 22, 10 4:07 PM
Wow, now they're blaming storms on the Lohan family. If no one mentioned the word LOHAN for a week maybe they would go away and find a real life
By hamptonsnrcit (47), sag harbor on Jul 22, 10 4:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
Why did the News Media downplay this tornado like storm which ripped out powerlines and twisted the tops off of trees a foot and more wide? This damage was done by MUCH MORE e than the so-- reported 65 mile an hour winds -- IT ACTUALLY was concentrated in a SMALL AREA in the Springs and was indicative of a tornado nor quite touching ground - - BUT IT DID TWIST THE TOPS OFF OF MANY TREES --AND A LOT OF DAMAGE DONE. THOSE REPORTS OF 65 MILE AN HOUR WINDS --had noting to do with what really happened. ...more
By pride of bonac (42), easthampton on Jul 22, 10 9:19 PM
2 members liked this comment
Pride of Bonac is dead on - the damage left most of us in awe. In walking distance from our house I know of a boat was flipped upside down, a week old above ground pool was crushed under a tree, two other cars were crushed under trees and live power lines were hanging on our street making it a virtual dead end. We were lucky and didn't loose trees or have any damage to our property.

LIPA and the clean up crews did a great job, I was amazed that we have power in roughly 24 hours.
By splashdown (21), sag harbor on Jul 22, 10 11:02 PM
I've been on this planet a little more than three decades, and spend most of it here on the East End, considering I was born here. For the life of me, I genuinely don't recall short squalls like this causing this kind of damage in a heartbeat.

This was just like what hit CT, and the North Shore not too long ago.

Maybe those with a better memory than I can recollect when, and how often this kind of "weather event" has happened with such frequency.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 22, 10 11:27 PM
How do you spell TORNADO?
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Jul 23, 10 12:10 AM
At least The Press got the names of the streets right. News 12 sends a reporter out here and she tells everyone she's reporting from GLADE DRIVE! I guess the long ride in the news van diminished the low IQ she already had
By itsamazing (224), Southampton on Jul 23, 10 9:08 AM
good job to all of you who took the time to care for us in springs THANKS.
By fv (2), east hampton on Jul 23, 10 9:19 PM
2 members liked this comment
take a look at the springs library there is a path of destruction through there across the pond to school street sure looks like a tornado's path to me
By asurest (117), easthampton on Jul 26, 10 8:35 PM
Now there was one in the Bronx today.

Second one in sixty years ever recorded.

Near as I can see, this AIN'T NORMAL WEATHER!
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 26, 10 11:26 PM


Don't even mention the T name because it may not be good advertising for attracting tourism -- " good job news media" --another "Hamptons Whitewash"
By pride of bonac (42), easthampton on Jul 30, 10 8:58 PM
There's no cover up. It just wasn't a tornado. Tourism is the least of our concerns when we cover the news.
By BOReilly (135), 27east Web Editor on Aug 2, 10 10:20 AM