Earl leaves Riverhead with a whimper

09/09/2010 12:00 AM |

Hurricane Earl did kick up some larger-than-usual waves in Long Island Sound at Iron Pier beach Friday evening.

Hurricane Earl threatened to dump two to three inches of rain on the East End last week, and stir up tropical storm force winds of up to 55 miles per hour.

What materialized, though, was light rain and no wind at all.

That was the case for most of Friday, at least. Some heavy rains hit the area Friday night, but for most of the day, Earl’s impact on Riverhead Town never lived up to its advance billing.

In the days leading up to Friday, the storm was being described as possibly one of the strongest to hit the Northeast in years.

By 11 p.m., it was all but over. Earl had passed by about 150 to 200 miles east of the coast of Long Island, leaving only some erosion along the Atlantic beaches on the South Shore.

Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said there had been no incidents in town attributed to Earl. Still, Riverhead officials say they were ready for the worst.

“We prepared, we did everything we had to do, but it doesn’t seem like anything is going to happen,” said Supervisor Sean Walter said.

According to the National Weather Service in Upton, the hurricane weakened greatly as it moved up the coast and into cooler waters, and was downgraded from a category 3 to a category 1 storm between Thursday night and Friday morning.

The town had signed an inter-municipal agreement with the Riverhead School District and was prepared to evacuate the town’s 2,500 mobile home residents to Red Cross shelters at the high school and middle school, using school district buses to transport them.

Although that wasn’t necessary, Mr. Walter said it was a good training tool for the town and its employees.

“I’d rather be prepared and look foolish if nothing happens,” he said. “I will not take any chances with storms like this.”

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