updated 5/18/2007 1:00:58 PM ET 2007-05-18T17:00:58

Powerful thunderstorms knocked out power, delayed trains and left neighborhoods in three states littered with tree branches. Several schools in New York City’s northern suburbs were closed Thursday because of the damage.

In the Westchester County town of New Castle, a state of emergency remained in effect as major state routes and many secondary roads remained impassable at dawn, New Castle Police Sgt. Bruce Cathie. Public schools in Chappaqua, where former President Clinton has a home, were among several that either delayed or canceled Thursday classes.

Wednesday’s fast-moving storms brought heavy rain and powerful wind to the Northeast.

“It happened so quickly. It just came out of nowhere,” said Robert Spano, whose car was hit by a falling tree outside his plumbing business in Bedford Hills.

Wind gusts as high as 70 mph were recorded in Brooklyn, said Tim Morrin of the National Weather Service. Meteorologists found no evidence of tornadoes but plenty of damage.

In three New York counties just north of New York City, 18,000 customers remained without power Thursday morning, down from a peak of 62,000, utilities officials said. Connecticut Light and Power had just under 23,000 customers without power Thursday, down from 60,000. An official at New Jersey’s PSE&G said 500 of its customers were still without power.

Connecticut was bringing in crews from Massachusetts and New Hampshire to help restore service, utility officials said.

In southern New Jersey, rainfall from the storm helped firefighters corral a 22-square-mile wildfire believed to have been started when a military jet dropped a flare on a dry bombing range. Hundreds of people had been urged to evacuate because of the fire danger. New York commuters weren’t as happy with the storm, which temporarily blocked some Metro-North Railroad lines.

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