Update: About 15 crashes in Riverhead; more snow coming Tuesday

02/03/2014 5:00 PM |
Peconic River downtown Riverhead (Barbaraellen Koch Photo)

Snowy scene along the Peconic Riverfront boardwalk on Monday. (Barbaraellen Koch Photo)

Update 7:30 p.m.: Riverhead Town police said there have been about 15 car accidents reported in town since the snow began Monday morning. None of the accidents were serious, mostly cars “running off the road” and “fender benders,” a police source said.

Town Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson said he’s noticed more cars on the roads than he would have expected. Residents are advised to stay indoors. Those who must travel should take caution on the slippery roadways, Mr. Woodson said.

“They shouldn’t be out there,” he said, adding that although the main roads are passable, highway teams are continuing to plow side roads.

The edge of the storm was moving through New York City as of 5:30 p.m. and the last of the snow is expected to move through the local area by 8 p.m., National Weather Service meteorologist Gary Conte said.

Monday’s storm brought 5.5 inches of snow to Riverhead as of 3:30 p.m., according to NWS data. Spotters in Orient documented a full 6 inches at 5 p.m.

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With Monday’s snowstorm tapering off, snow totals for the next batch of wintery weather coming Tuesday night have been upgraded, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasts now show between three to five inches of additional snow could be dumped on the North Fork by Wednesday morning, with the precipitation changing over to freezing rain in the afternoon and causing icy conditions across the East End, Mr. Conte said.

As for the rest of the week, NWS meteorologist John Murray said Thursday and Friday will be cold and dry and there’s chance for more snow over the weekend.

“There is another system that has our attention,” he said. “There’ll likely be some changes from forecast to forecast. At the current time, what we have is another chance of snow. Slight chance Saturday morning and we’ll see that chance of snow generally exist through the remainder of the weekend into next Monday.”

Update 2 p.m.: Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said that as snow continues to fall and temperatures remain around freezing the roads are slushy. While the main arteries are faring better, side roads continue to be slippery.

The town is asking residents to stay off the roads if possible and to drive extra carefully. Snow plow crews are still operating around town.

The heavy snow is expected to taper off after 6 p.m.

ORIGINAL STORY

With several inches of snow already blanketing Riverhead, weather experts say the area could see totals of about eight inches by the time Monday’s storm ends this evening.

But unfortunately for those looking for relief from the snow, forecasts show another blast of wintery weather is coming Tuesday night, though snowfall totals won’t be nearly as high.

Baiting Hollow has reported the highest local total with 3.6 inches as of 10:40 a.m., according to National Weather Service data. Riverhead is up to 2.9 inches just before 11 a.m., and Wading River reported 2.7 inches earlier this morning.

The north shore of Long Island is seeing slightly higher amounts of snow due to colder air that turned Monday morning’s mix of rain and sleet into snow, said meteorologist Joe Picca.

The snow is set to continue at about 1/2 inch to 1 inch per hour, he said.

“Over the next few hours, just expect what we’re seeing right now to continue,” Mr. Picca said.

By mid-afternoon, the snowfall will start to taper off, with only scattered light snow after 5 p.m., he said. By 10 p.m., the last flurries should be gone.

A winter weather warning remains in effect for all of Suffolk County until 7 p.m.

Riverhead Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson said the roads are “passable if you use common sense.”

“If you’re going 25 to 30, you’ll be okay,” he said.

Crews began salting the roads at 5:30 a.m. Monday and were plowing by 8. Highway employees are now going over the main roads in town, and will start to tackle the side roads and developments later this afternoon, Mr. Woodson said.

This storm has been less challenging than a winter storm last month that had high winds which blew snow back onto cleared roadways, he said. That’s not a concern for this snowstorm, but the increasing snowfall could pose new problems.

“It’s a heavier snow to push so it may be a bit harder,” Mr. Woodson said.

Though forecasts predict Tuesday will be dry for most of the day with temperatures around the mid-30s, the break from snow and freezing rain won’t last, Mr. Picca said.

A new storm system is expected to churn through the area from the southwest around 9 p.m. Tuesday. The North Fork can expect to see “widespread snow” overnight, which will switch over to freezing rain and sleet in the morning, current forecasts show.

“It looks like a big mixed bag heading into Wednesday,” Mr. Picca said.

By the afternoon, the precipitation should be mostly rain, he said. No weather advisories are in effect for Suffolk for that storm yet.

February is already off to a wet start, and comes on the heels of a significantly snowier January than normal, Mr. Picca said.

According to climate data from the National Weather Service’s observations in Islip, Long Island saw 25.2 inches of snow during January.

The average snowfall for that time of year is just 6.7 inches, Mr. Picca said.

“We basically quadrupled normal snowfall,” he said. The snowiest January on record was in 2011, when 34.4 inches were reported, he said.

psquire@timesreview.com

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