Update: Up to 20 inches possible on the North Fork

02/08/2013 12:05 PM |
Riverhead braces for storm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Highway department plows were at the ready Friday.

A “significant” winter storm is expected to dump between 12 and 20 inches of snow across Long Island, with the most snow expected on the North Fork and East End Friday into Saturday, according to forecasts by the National Weather Service, which issued a blizzard warning starting Friday.

Even higher amounts can accumulate on eastern Long Island due to isolated snow bands, weather officials said.

A mix of rain and occasional flurries had already begun to fall Friday morning, with about 2 to 4 inches of snow expected to accumulate during the daytime hours, according to NWS forecasts.

But things are going to start picking up into the evening and worsen as the night goes on, when the blizzard will hit with heavy bands of snow and sustained winds between 30 and 40 mph — with gusts topping 60 mph — that will make travel dangerous and may cause power outages, officials said.

“This is a classic nor’easter,” said meteorologist David Stark, with the weather service station in Upton. ”All the ingredients that come together for nor’easter are there.”

NORTH FORK SCHOOL CLOSINGS, POSTPONEMENTS

The storm could cause electrical outages for over 100,000 customers on Long Island, according to a statement by National Grid.

EVENTS CANCELED DUE TO STORM

“The winds are going to be howling Friday night,” Mr. Stark said. “I wouldn’t recommend being on the road.”

Riverhead Town officials are warning North Shore residents whose properties suffered beach erosion during Hurricane Sandy should pay close attention to the storm, as more erosion is expected.

Officials are also telling residents to remove their cars from streets so town highway workers can better plow the roads.

“Vehicles parked on a public highway during a snow emergency are subject to fines and towing,” reads a town press release.

Riverhead highway superintendent George (Gio) Woodson said on Thursday that highway crews had already begun spreading a salt-brine solution over some stretches of town roads to make plowing easier.

“Right now we’re putting it on some of our main roads and dangerous intersections,” he said, explaining that the brine creates a barrier between the snow and asphalt.

“With all the traffic on the road these days, the cars get out and pack the snow down and the plows sort of ride on top of it,” so the brine helps, he said.

Rivrhead highways crews were prepping vehicles and supplies about 10 a.m. Friday, but Mr. Woodson said he planned to send the workers home about 2 p.m. so they can rest up for a long night.

He expected they would return in the evening, before the heavy snow starts to fall.

In the meantime, residents had been taking to gas stations and supermarkets to fuel up and get supplies.

Things got tense for a minute Friday morning at the Valero station on Route 25A in Wading River, where a car had cut a gas line about four cars deep.

A man in a pickup drove up to the rouge car’s driver and told him to move to the back of the line, and the driver complied.

“Last night it was bad,” said Will Andrews, 18, of Wading River, who showed up at the Valero Friday morning instead.

“I am preparing just in case.” he said, recalling the gas lines after Hurricane Sandy.

“It is very busy,” said Ysin Ilgin, who manages the station. “There have been lots of lines. We are waiting for a delivery. We will see.”

“People worry too much,” he added. “It’s not the end of the world.”

“I’m not that worried, but I might as well fill up just in case,” said Todd Drexler of Miller Place.

Suffolk Sheriff Vincent DeMarco issued a statement Friday cautioning residents to have a plan in place to stay warm and safe. If you lose heat in your home, he said, close off any unneeded rooms and plan to stay in one area.

“To retain heat as long as possible, place blankets or towels under doors and cover up all windows where heat could easily escape,” he said.

He also recommended leaving faucets slightly turned on if there is a danger of water pipes freezing.

The east-northeastern winds may also cause beach erosion on the North Fork because of Friday night’s high tide, weather officials said.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for coastal areas.

By Saturday afternoon, the storm will have moved out of the area and the high winds will die down over the weekend as temperatures rise above freezing, Mr. Stark said.

Residents are advised to avoid traveling during the storm due to the predicted hazardous conditions.

At Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead was also implementing a preparedness plan for the coming storm.

All evening and night staff will be reporting to the Route 58 hospital by 5 p.m. Friday, which means those staffing those shifts will be “in-house” before darkness, said Andrew Mitchell, hospital president and CEO.

“Senior staff will be onsite at the main campus emergency operations center throughout the duration of the storm,” Mr. Mitchell said.

psquire@timesreview.com

With Michael White, Barbaraellen Koch and Joe Werkmeister

Riverhead highway workers prepare for Nemo

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | John Niewadomski helps Dave Osman check tire pressure Friday.

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