Snow falls as nor’easter strikes Riverhead

11/07/2012 5:40 PM |

COURTESY PHOTO | A National Weather Service radar shows Wednesday night’s nor’easter as it hits Long Island.

Effects from an offshore nor’easter have begun to intensify Wednesday evening, making driving conditions dangerous and even bringing the first reported snowfall of the winter.

Current forecasts show the storm may dust the area with up to an inch of snow, with more snow for the western areas of town, said Brian Ciemnecki, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Upton.

“We’re going to see snow for another couple of hours,” he said. “The best chance is that it’ll probably remain less than half an inch.”

The snow began just before the sun set as cooler air moved into the area, Mr. Ciemnecki said. The wintery mix is expected to be light throughout the night and should taper off by the afternoon, the latest forecasts show.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A woman was hospitalized Wednesday afternoon after three cars crashed on Route 58 in Riverhead.

The storm is currently about 170 miles south-southeast of Montauk, Mr. Ciemnecki said, and will continue to move to the northeast through the night.

Winds should be slightly less than originally predicted, with sustained winds between 25 and 35 mph. Gusts could still reach up into the 45 mph range, he said.

The nor’easter will also bring a storm surge, though one not as bad as superstorm Sandy’s last week.

Road conditions are expected to worsen into the night. The poor weather already caused at least one accident on Route 58 in Riverhead Wednesday afternoon that sent a woman to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries, police said.

The storm has “caused additional damage and power outages,” according to a LIPA statement.

“We will continue to deploy our significant workforce to address all power outages,” a LIPA alert stated.

As of 5:45 p.m., LIPA is reporting more than 1,400 outages in Riverhead, up from about 1,100 outages earlier today.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter has asked residents to be careful, pay attention if you live in a flooding zone, and avoid traveling Wednesday night.

Tonight’s 6 p.m. high tide will be the highest in the next few cycles, bringing the  high tide from the nor’easter up to about 4 feet above normal, Mr. Walter said in a statement. Residents in low-lying areas should stay vigilant as the storm strikes, he said.

Southampton Town issued a voluntary evacuation notice for residents in low-lying areas like Flanders Tuesday night; no evacuation was planned for Riverhead, said Police Chief David Hegermiller.

“I don’t think we’ll see a problem with low-lying areas,” he said. “We’re only supposed to see a 1- to 2-foot surge.”

Mr. Walter also advised residents to be careful around downed power lines, which could still be energized.

“This storm has the potential to cause more trees and power lines to come down … Stay away from fallen wires,” Mr. Walter said.

The town has cancelled all recreation department activities tonight, and both the Riverhead and Shoreham Wading River school districts cancelled after-school and evening activities because of the oncoming storm.

In case of emergency, call the Riverhead Police Department at 911 or (631) 727-4500. A Red Cross shelter has been opened at Saint Joseph’s College in Patchogue.

psquire@timesreview.com