Wintry mix tapering off, rain in forecast until 6 p.m.

02/05/2014 8:05 AM |
Carrie Miller photo | Plows pushing along Main Street about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Carrie Miller photo | Plows pushing along Main Street about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Update: Noon

Knock on wood.

The snow and ice storm has turned into mostly rain, or stopped altogether, which is helping to melt some of the snow that fell overnight in Riverhead Town.

“It’s not doing anything right now,” Riverhead Highway Superintendent George Woodson said of the weather shortly after 11 a.m. “Supposedly it will change over to rain, but the temperatures are fluctuating right now. We might have rain, or a little snow, or a little bit in between.  I’m hoping for rain and that it will just stay warm enough to get rid of some of the snow.”

Mr. Woodson said the temperatures have warmed up.

“If it stays like this, we’ll will be fine,” he said. “But we’ll have to see what happens with the temperatures.”

So far, all of the town’s roads are open, he said, and all of them should be plowed by later Wednesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service still has a winter storm warning in effect for the area, predicting sleet and freezing rain until 1 p.m., then rain after that until 6 p.m.

David Stark, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Upton, said the temperatures have been higher than predicted so far, but that they are close enough to freezing to keep a wintry mix going for a bit.

He said all of the precipitation will stop around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., but temperatures will drop to around 20 degrees tomorrow morning, so the roads and other surfaces will be slippery and dangerous.

“The heavy sleet that we had this morning is over,” he said.

Thursday will see temperatures in the 20s, but it also will be sunny, which could help melt some of the snow and ice on the ground, Mr. Stark said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Woodson said he picked up 40 tons of rock salt, or about three truck loads, from the state this morning at Yaphank.

Riverhead, like other towns, was short on salt because of all the recent snow storms, and the state helped out by provided 400 tons to Long Island municipalities.

“It won’t last long,” Mr. Woodson cautioned.

Mr. Woodson said he will “go with the flow and see what happens” with the weather for the rest of the day before deciding on how much salt to use.

The next potential snow storm will be Sunday.

Mr. Stark said that’s still too far out to predict with any certainty what will happen, although snow is a possibility.

8 a.m.

Riverhead Highway Superintendent George Woodson said his crews have been plowing roads since about 6 a.m. and should have to continue until about 3 p.m.  in order to get all of the town roads done.

“The roads are okay if you drive slow,” he said, adding that he hasn’t seen many accidents.

One concern facing Riverhead and other highway departments, Mr. Woodson said, is that salt supplies are running low.

“We have to be careful with the salt, with the supply being low and not knowing when the next shipment is coming in,” he said.  ”We can’t waste it and not have anything for the weekend. I can put in an order today, and it may come tomorrow, or it may come next week. We would probably need 15 trucks just to fill my salt building, and I know they’re not going to send 15 trucks just for Riverhead alone because everybody needs it.”

“After we get done plowing, we’ll put extra sand on the roads,” he added.

Mr. Woodson was taking a truck to Yaphank to get more salt as he spoke this morning.

At about 8 a.m., there was heavy, wet snow on the roads, he said, and they have put extra weight on the trucks.

“We just ask people to be patient and use common sense,” Mr. Woodson said. ”Wait until we plow your neighborhood and then do your driveway,  so you won’t be so ticked off when we come.”

Mr. Woodson also said some people continue to park their cars on the street, something the highway department has asked them not to do, because the cars interfere with snow plowing.

Supervisor Sean Walter said Town Hall is open.

— Tim Gannon

6:30 a.m.

The Town of Riverhead has released its first weather and travel advisory of the day. All plow crews are out, conditions are slippery and as much as six inches of snow could accumulate. The town is saying the current wintry mix will turn exclusively to freezing rain after 10 a.m.

630 riverhead town advisory

— Grant Parpan

5 a.m.

The light snow that continues to fall through the overnight hours is expected to get heavier before turning to sleet and freezing rain after 6 a.m., making for a slippery and dangerous commute in Riverhead Wednesday morning, weather officials are reporting.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect across Long Island until 6 p.m. and as much as two to four inches of snow could mix with up to a quarter of an inch sheet of ice along our roadways.

“Travel will be extremely dangerous due to significant snow and ice accumulations,” the National Weather Service is reporting. “Snow and ice accumulations will knock down tree limbs and power lines.”

Wind gusts of up to 20 miles per hour are expected and temperatures should remain at or below freezing until about 10 a.m. A high of about 35 degrees has been forecast as the rain continues through the afternoon. Temperatures are then expected to dip back into the 20s overnight and remain freezing into Thursday morning.

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.”

More than 30 inches of snow has already fallen in Riverhead this year.

— Grant Parpan