Video: Lightning blamed for outage

updated 6/28/2007 1:38:01 PM ET 2007-06-28T17:38:01

Another volley of violent thunderstorms loomed in the forecast after unruly weather swamped roads, tore down trees, knocked out power and scrambled travel in the New York City metro area.

A flash-flood watch was in effect for New York City and many suburbs from 8 a.m. Thursday through 2 a.m. Friday, when a new round of storms was expected on the heels of destructive winds and downpours Wednesday night.

Up to 2 more inches of rain was possible in some areas Thursday, along with the potential for damaging wind gusts, lightning and hail, said National Weather Service meteorologist Nelson Vaz.

Less than 8,000 homes and businesses across the area remained without power late Thursday morning because of the previous evening's storms, which sent trees crashing and water cascading into some homes.

Bobbie Zimmerman's house was one of them. Water was several feet deep in the first floor of her home in the Jamaica section of Queens, she told the New York Post.

"It pushed open the door. I thought the world was coming to an end," said Zimmerman, 58.

Cars stalled on flooded roadways, and commuters were stranded at Pennsylvania Station for about two hours Wednesday night as the Long Island Rail Road suspended almost all service because of the weather.

Flights were delayed for hours at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports, and some made lengthy detours to other airports. Queens-based JetBlue Airways Corp., for instance, canceled nearly 70 flights into and out of Kennedy and LaGuardia Wednesday, but the airline still had some planes trickling into Kennedy well after 2 a.m. Thursday, said spokesman Bryan Baldwin.

Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports were running with only minimal delays Thursday morning, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

North of the city, flash floods closed the Bronx River Parkway in both directions for hours near the Main Street exit in White Plains and the Fenimore Road exit in Scarsdale, Westchester County police said. One car was stranded in the water near the Main Street exit, but the occupants were rescued safely, police said. Motorists also were helped out of at least one flooded underpass on Long Island.

Hail and lightning knocked out the signal system at the LIRR's Jamaica station — a critical hub for all but one of the railroad's 10 branches — around 7:30 p.m., said spokeswoman Susan McGowan. The railroad soon halted trains on all but the Port Washington branch and shut its section of Penn Station to prevent overcrowding, she said.

Some trains were stopped and delayed between stations, but passengers were patient, McGowan said.

"All of the customers seemed to really understand the severity of the storms," she said.

The LIRR reopened Penn Station and began restoring service through Jamaica around 10 p.m., McGowan said. The railroad was running normally Thursday morning.

Lightning was being investigated as a possible cause of a roughly 45-minute power outage that affected about 385,000 people in Manhattan and the Bronx Wednesday afternoon, Consolidated Edison said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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