NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The balmy, summery temperatures that neared 80 degrees on Friday were a distant memory two days later, as winter returned with a blasting, windy vengeance.
Powerful winds toppled trees in parts of Newark on Sunday, and hail also came down in some areas. Some areas also saw whiteout conditions as snow fell.
By late Sunday evening, the storm was still affecting thousands due to power outages. In New Jersey, more than 7,000 were without power, 1,200 in Connecticut, 2,500 in Long Island, and 200 in New York City as of 11 p.m.
On Sunday morning, heavy snow fell at a rapid pace on the East End of Long Island, where the near-whiteout conditions were seen. Visibility was down to a half mile in the Hamptons.
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Rock Hill in Sullivan County saw a total of 5.1 inches of snow, Monroe saw 3 inches, and West Milford saw 2.4 inches.
In New York City proper, conditions were sunny Sunday morning, but blasting winds made for potentially dangerous conditions. Wind gusts hit 45 mph in Central Park, 44 in White Plains and Greenwich, Connecticut, and 39 in Belmar, New Jersey, CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reported.
Wind chills were making it feel like 24 degrees in the city, 23 in Tenafly, 16 in Speonk, and a January-worthy 7 degrees in upstate New York’s Liberty.
A high wind warning was in effect for the entire Tri-State Area until 2 p.m. Sunday, and a high wind watch continued afterward. Conditions remained bitter and windy through the afternoon.
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On 58th Street near Eighth Avenue Sunday morning, a rectangular slab of Styrofoam was seen surrealistically bouncing down the middle of the street, carried along by the wintry gusts. But the situation was far less whimsical elsewhere. In Queens, high winds were blamed for a tree coming down onto power lines.
The wind was also blamed for the collapse of an empty home that was under construction in Howard Beach, Queens, according to the NYPD’s 106th Precinct.
Fire crews were also called to First Avenue and 89th Street on the Upper East Side, where a crane was seen swaying in the wind at the top of a building.
In Raritan, New Jersey, the storm knocked down several fence poles and wiped out a stair railing at the entrance of a home.
As CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported, anything that was loose outside or even tied or weighted down was pushed around by the wind gusts. On the second floor of one house, the siding was flapping in the wind.
Gusts of up to 60 mph were felt in Raritan. Jose Rodriguez was up all night, and said he didn’t know what to do after high winds knocked the window out of his son’s room, sending a television crashing from the second floor to the ground.
Rodriguez told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern that he had been watching TV in the second-floor bedroom at 1 a.m., when the window was sucked out of its frame along with the TV and Xbox.
“My first instinct was to run out of that room and run downstairs to the basement,” he said.
The winds also ripped down fences and sent outdoor furniture flying. And when Rodriguez, himself, opened his front door, he said he was knocked down by dangerous gusts.
“I just see everything in my living room twirling around. A lamp broke, so I was scared about getting electrocuted and so on,” he said.
It took Rodriguez and a friend 15 minutes to close the front door as wind and rain filled the living room. Rodriguez said his friend was thrown clear across the room.
Earlier in Woodland Park, lightning flashed and hail the size of pennies blanketed the streets.
On Palm Street in Newark, a falling tree barely missed a minivan. On South Orange Avenue, firefighters used chainsaws to clear fallen limbs and branches broken by high winds.
And on North 12th Street in Newark, a tree fell through a home, injuring a 28-year-old man, a 60-year-old woman and a 6-year-old girl, Newark police said.
On Long Island, it was especially challenging with rain, wet snow and strong, gusty winds knocking down trees. It was no fun driving a box truck, Cliff Walker said.
“Sometimes the wind comes so strong, it will move the vehicle. It moved me almost to the far right late one time,” Walker told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs. “It’s crazy.”
JCPL spokesman Ron Morano told WCBS 880 that some outages would not be fixed until the wind dies down.
“They cannot be in a bucket if the winds are sustained at 40 miles per hour or higher, so we will certainly look out for their safety, and safety is the number one concern we have for everyone on a day like today — our employees, the public — and we encourage any customer who sees a downed wire to report it to their local utility,” Morano said.
Back in New York City, the Department of Buildings reminded all builders, contractors and property owners to secure their construction sites and buildings. All cranes operations must also stop and cranes must be secured by Saturday afternoon.
The Department of Buildings said it will be performing random inspections of sites across the city.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also urged New Yorkers to use caution.
“With strong winds and cold temperatures expected to continue throughout the day, New Yorkers should plan ahead, exercise caution and ensure their homes are ready to weather the impacts of the storm,” Cuomo said in a news release. “High winds may cause downed power lines and power outages – and it’s critical for New Yorkers to stay off roads and allow emergency personnel to do their jobs. The state continues to monitor the situation closely and to work with all partners to keep New Yorkers safe.”