August 13, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Storm that hit Michigan gives New York town summer's worth of rain

Vehicles are submerged on a flooded section of the Northern State Parkway, near Route 107, in Jericho, N.Y., on New York's Long Island on Wednesday. (Howard Schnapp / Newsday)

North Babylon, N.Y. — A storm dumped an entire summer’s worth of rain on parts of Long Island, leading to a fatal crash Wednesday and stranding drivers on roads flooded with door-handle-high water.

The same system dumped rain on Michigan earlier in the week.

A person died when an SUV was hit by a tractor-trailer at 4:40 a.m. on the Long Island Expressway near Dix Hills, during the height of the storm, according to Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke. He said it appeared the SUV was driving slowly when it was hit by the larger vehicle.

The person who died was in the SUV; the body was burned beyond recognition, said Burke.

The staggering rain total, more than 13 inches, was recorded from Tuesday evening until Wednesday morning at an airport in the hamlet of Ronkonkoma in Islip. That was more than the area’s normal total for June, July and August of 11.75 inches, said Joe Pollina of the National Weather Service. More than 5 inches of it fell in just a one-hour period, from 5 to 6 a.m. Wednesday, Pollina said.

The flooding wreaked havoc on the morning commute.

“Many roads are flooded and driving is treacherous,” Riverhead officials said in a statement. “There are numerous abandoned vehicles.”

Parts of the Southern State Parkway were closed.

“It was up to my waist,” said James Piano of Islip Terrace, who was rescued in North Babylon by firefighters after his truck was swamped. “That little Miata over there was floating in the middle lane, literally floating.”

By midmorning, the water subsided there and traffic began moving again along a road surface coated with a slippery-looking film of oil, dirt and grass.

For many, though, the headaches remained. Several dozen abandoned cars were strewn along the grassy shoulder.

Juan Ortiz of Brentwood was standing on an overpass next to his disabled vehicle waiting for a friend, six hours after he became stranded.

At first, he had navigated puddles on the parkway “with no problem.” But then, “out of nowhere, I passed underneath this overpass. … I just ran into a lake” about 3 to 4 feet deep.

He said he thought, “What the hell’s goin’ on?” then got out of his car and pushed it up a ramp and onto the overpass. He saw other people in similar straits and helped out as much as he could.

“It was ridiculous,” said Ortiz, adding that he hadn’t heard warnings about flooding.

In Nesconset, fire crews with boats rescued drivers, according to WPIX.

The storm that passed over the Northeast dumped varying amounts of rain.

New York City ranged from under an inch in Central Park to more than 3 inches at Kennedy Airport.

But parts of New Jersey also got more than 7 inches of rain. Several homes were evacuated in Millville, New Jersey, because of flooding.

Baltimore got 6.3 inches of rain, the highest total since 1933 and the second-highest since measurements were first taken in 1871.