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Weather Service: Storm — possibly severe — bearing down on Shelter Island tonight

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued High Wind and Coastal Flood warnings for Shelter Island from this afternoon until Wednesday afternoon.

According to the NWS, a Warning is issued “when a hazardous weather event is occurring, imminent or likely. A warning means weather conditions pose a threat to life or property. People in the path of the storm need to take protective action.”

Tonight, the NWS is calling for rain to continue with the  possibility of thunderstorms between 1 a.m. and  4 a.m. Some of the storms washing over the Island could produce heavy rainfall, up to a quarter of an inch total.

The wind will be out of the southeast between 24 and 34 mph, but gusts could blow as high as 60 mph.

The Shelter Island Highway Department is ready for the storm, Superintendent Ken Lewis told the Reporter this afternoon. All vehicles, including heavy equipment, have been checked, gassed up and are ready to go, he said, and barricades, cones and chain saws loaded.

The main concern is not so much coastal flooding, but the high winds, Mr. Lewis said. “Outside of Ram Island, people can get around if we have flooding” he said, adding that the department’s crews know the areas prone to flooding and can secure roadways by blocking them off.

Also, Mr. Lewis mentioned that — with that Ram Island exception — alternate routes can almost always be accessed.

But wind is another story, he said. “With the weather we’ve been having, the ground is like a sponge, it’s so soft after so much rain,” he said, and trees and powerline poles are susceptible to be blown down.

The superintendent mentioned a powerline that came down on West Neck Road during Saturday’s storm, due to extremely soft ground at its base

PSEG crews are on the Island and will use the Highway Department’s headquarters as a staging area, Mr. Lewis said, with the power company’s personnel using the Department’s facilities to take breaks between shifts.

His advice to Islanders during the storm is what you’d expect: stay home to stay safe. “You don’t know what can come loose in a storm,” he said.

High tide is due at around 9 p.m., Tuesday, so that will increase the flooding of Island roads, he added, “and saltwater is not friendly to vehicles.”

“This is a quiet time of the year for Shelter Island,” Mr. Lewis added, “so hunker down with your families and stay in.”