Long Island is already starting to feel the effects of Hurricane Sandy as howling winds rolled into the area early Monday morning, bringing down trees and power lines and knocking out power to more than 20,000 homes.
The killer storm has already led to several significant closures, including the Holland Tunnel and Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Local police have already reported a number of road closures throughout the Island as Hurricane Sandy continues to make its way up the East Coast.
As of 7 a.m., Sandy was located about 340 miles south-southeast of New York City and is on track to make landfall in New Jersey Monday night, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters expect conditions to “rapidly deteriorate” throughout the day, and the massive storm is expected to pound the area with damaging winds and “life threatening storm surge,” the NWS said.
Officials are urging residents to stay indoors as flooding and downed trees can make driving extremely dangerous.
The National Weather Service has already received reports of coastal flooding in some parts of the Island. There’s also been reports of water covering roadways and flooding threatening homes in low-lying areas.
Storm surge flooding has already impacted Amityville, Lindenhurst, Bayville and Atlantic Beach, said David Stark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“Tonight is going to be significantly worse than we’re seeing now,” he warned, adding that the Island can see sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph and even up to 80 mph as Sandy approaches the coastline.
Wind gusts of 58 mph has already been recorded at Laguardia Airport, he said.
Along with strong wind, officials are warning residents of record storm surge of 6 to 11 feet.
The Long Island Power Authority is reporting that 21,408 ratepayers were without power Monday morning. The utility warned customers of prolonged power outages, some seven to ten days.
More than 3,000 customers in the Towns of Hempstead, Islip, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay were already battling the storm without power, with the worst yet to come.
Both Nassau and Suffolk Counties have declared a state of emergency and issued a mandatory evacuation for residents in low-lying areas. The impending storm prompted school officials to close schools, some already notifying parents that classes would be cancelled on Tuesday.