MORIAH, N.Y. (AP) - Dozens of roads in the eastern Adirondacks remained closed by flooding Thursday as another round of thunderstorms dumped more rain across parts of upstate already waterlogged from earlier downpours.
Some street flooding was reported in the Southern Tier and strong thunderstorms tracked through eastern New York, where lightning strikes were the likely causes of fires that destroyed the steeple on a 19th century church in Fulton County and lightly damaged another church in Columbia County during the morning.
In western New York, high winds Thursday afternoon closed the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge linking the U.S. and Canada over the Niagara River gorge. Commercial vehicles and buses were limited to the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, which was open to passenger vehciles, along with the Rainbow Bridge.
National Grid reported just more than 38,000 customers without power at mid-afternoon, about 24,000 of them in Niagara County. The National Weather Service had a high wind warning in effect for much of western New York until 8 p.m., with gusts forecast as high as 60 mph. NYSEG reported about 16,000 outages scattered around the state.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state Emergency Operations Center was activated and rescue teams, including amphibious aircraft crews and the state's swift water rescue team, were ready to be deployed.
Don Jaquish, director of Essex County Emergency Services, said 71 roads were closed Thursday countywide. The east branch of the Au Sable River was flooded from Keene to Au Sable Forks, covering some roads in about 2 feet of water.
A 50-foot bridge in rural Moriah, the Titus Road Bridge, collapsed amid the torrent Wednesday evening, he said
"It just dropped. Boom!" Jaquish said, adding that no one was on the bridge at the time.
Essex County Manager Dan Palmer told The Associated Press the preliminary estimate of damage to county roads and bridges is around $3 million.
The unrelenting storms gave Syracuse its wettest April on record. According to the National Weather Service, the upstate city better known for its impressive snowfall totals topped 8.4 inches of rain for the month, beating the old record of 8.1 inches set in April 1976.
Rochester also saw an April record, with 5.8 inches as of Thursday, beating the old record of 5.4 inches set in 1929. More rain was expected Thursday and Friday from Buffalo to Albany.
The National Weather Service said more rain was forecast through Thursday, but it was expected to ease on Friday with sunny, dry weather predicted for the weekend.
A swath of the Southern Tier and central New York was slammed by flash flooding of small streams that was leading to alarmingly high river levels.
Meteorologists were going to the scenes of three rotating thunderstorms that blew through overnight to see if they were tornadoes. One hit near Elmira and Ithaca, where structural damage to several homes due to high winds was reported. The other two storms hit east of Utica and in northwest Chenango County.
"I have never seen storms like this occur in the middle of the night," said National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Nicosia.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.