LONG ISLAND - A state of emergency is in effect for the Town of Southampton, which spent Friday preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Lee.
The storm is not expected to make landfall but will cause a powerful storm surge and the potential for flooding.
Hurricane Leeis bringing gusting wind and crashing waves as high as 14 feet. The presence of the category 2 storm will be shrouded under a full moon that will swell the tide and could send rushing water into towns near Lido beach to as far as the Ponquogue shore.
Conditions aren’t expected to get bad until Friday night. But already this morning the dune at Dune Road was nearly breached by powerful waves that are pounding away at the sand. Crews spent the day trying to build up the sand barriers as fast as possible.
It’s why the Town of Southampton has declared a state of emergency for the area, allowing the supervisor to shut down roads, and divert emergency crews at a moment's notice.
Bulldozers are being used to move as much sand as possible to shore up the barriers that sit between the beach and nearby buildings. But as the hours ticked by, the wave energy grew, as well as the fear of significant flooding.
"There is no beach out there," said an onlooker at Lido Beach. "It’s just pond and then sandbar and then the ocean and the ocean is a good distance away, maybe a quarter mile."
The Town of Hempstead’s Supervisor spent the week urging residents living in low-lying areas to prepare, even if Hurricane Lee was forecasted to not make landfall.
Authorities say that underneath the powerful waves, the water is churning into violent rip currents. But surfers couldn’t resist the frothy squalls.
"They about head high," said one surfer. "You can ride the barrel and get pitted."
"Even if somebody is a very good swimmer, these are lethal conditions," said Schneiderman. "People really need to stay on the ocean right now it’s very dangerous."
The storm isn’t expected to send Long Island heavy rain, raging winds, power outages or inland flood. The biggest impact it could bring is long term damage to the coastline, potentially eroding several feet of the sandy shore.
"And exactly what those impacts are unknown at this point, so we’re just trying to be prepared for what might come our way particularly tonight," said Schneiderman.
High tide is at 9pm. The hope is crews have shored up the thin, vulnerable dunes with enough sand to prevent serious flooding.