Update: About 550 North Fork homes still without power

About 550 PSEG-LI customers on the North Fork remained without power Wednesday night, according to the utility.

PSEG has set an estimated restoration time of 11 p.m. Wednesday for some of the remaining homes without power, including nearly 450 customers in the Town of Southold. An additional 100 customers in Riverhead were also without electricity as of 9 p.m. Wednesday.

The utility said more than 80,000 of its 1.1 million customers were affected by Tuesday’s storm. About 4,352 of them remain powerless.

Water, ice and cell charging stations are available at PSEG’s Riverhead office located at 90 Doctors Path. PSEG will also open a space in Southold on Thursday offering those same items.

The exact location and times of operation will be available Thursday morning, officials said.

Check back for updates.

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3 p.m. Tuesday

Chris Browder watched Tuesday’s early morning lightning storm from inside the residence on his poultry farm in Mattituck.

Whenever there’s a bad storm, he tries to assess if there’s any damage on his property. He’ll usually peek out a few hundred feet to make sure his chicken tractors, sheep houses and egg mobiles are all intact.

On Tuesday, however, as the pouring rain cut down visibility and the wind and strobing lightning created hazards, all he could do was wait inside his house and hope for the best.

“I had no idea what was going on out there other than the fact that the rain was sideways and the wind was howling,” Mr. Browder said. “And there was lightning — lots and lots of lightning. It was the kind of thing where you don’t go outside, you just stay put until it passes.”

When he finally did make it onto his farm he found that one of his chicken tractors — a row of pens the Browders keep their chickens in — had blown into the wind and was tossed more than 100 feet away, where it lay on the ground “completely destroyed.”

The animals were unharmed, but it served as one of many examples of damage caused by the fast-moving and hard-blowing storm that downed trees and knocked out power across Long Island. More than 63,000 PSEG customers across Long Island lost power following the 6 a.m. storm, according to the utility, including about 6,000 houses and businesses across the North Fork.

In the hamlet of Southold, about eight hours after the storm passed, more than 1,200 PSEG customers were still without power, making up about 30 percent of the town’s total power outages as of 3 p.m. In Riverhead Town, nearly 1,500 customers were still without power at that time.

“It was quite an interesting morning to say the least,” said Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter.

Mr. Walter said the highway department was out early clearing the roads to keep them open and PSEG is expected to work into the night restoring power. Some sections on the north side of town are not expected to see their power restored until late Tuesday night, with PSEG restoration estimates as late as 11 p.m. in Jamesport.

In Southold Town, several roads remained closed into the afternoon.Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando said Tuesday is all about making sure every road in Southold is passable and safe. He said communication with the public was challenging for the highway department, because its building in Southold was also without power.

“We were in the dark, no pun intended,” he said.

As of 3 p.m., PSEG was projecting that power would not be on until as late as 9 a.m. Wednesday in some parts of Southold Town. Only about 50 percent of customers islandwide had seen their power restored as of 1 p.m. Tuesday.

But before everyone was “in the dark,” many who were awake to witness the storm, said they were amazed by how bright and active the lightning was.

“It was a very electrically active storm, no doubt about it,” said Michael French, a meteorologist and an assistant professor at Stony Brook University. “The reason it seemed like a strobe light is that you had either in-cloud or cloud-to-ground lightning almost constantly — probably every second or two. And so it’s just constant light. And you get that brief period of time between flashes and it just looks like a strobe light.”

Mr. French said the atmosphere at the time was very unstable, preventing the storm from dissipating as it crossed land.

“And when you have an electrically active storm, typically that means you have very strong rising air,” he said. “There’s a lot of indications that’s what we had in this particular case.”

Gary Conde, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Upton, said the lightning strikes had a “high-flash density” and the storm led to reports of hale in some areas.

“There were frequent and intense lightning strikes,” he said. “And it was associated with a well-defined complex of severe thunderstorms.”

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