01/03/14 1:00pm
01/03/2014 1:00 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead Town Building and Grounds manager Guy Cawley brings out the heavy equipment in Polish Town.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead Town Building and Grounds manager Guy Cawley brings out the heavy equipment in Polish Town.

Update: Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter announced Friday that with the plummeting temperatures, any residents who find themselves without heat can call the town at (631) 727-3200, ext. 312, and accommodations will be made for them in Riverhead Town Hall.

With snow tapering off late this morning, the numbers are in: according to the National Weather Service, Riverhead got pretty much exactly what forecasters had predicted, as the station reports 9.8 inches of snow fell in the hamlet.

The blizzard warning which is now expired had predicted anywhere from 8 to 10 inches falling across Suffolk County Thursday night into Friday, and an NWS meteorologist had said that the twin forks would be on the higher end of the scale, with western Suffolk on the lighter side.

In Baiting Hollow, the NWS reported that 8.5 inches fell in the area, while Orient reported the same total. Bay Shore got the most snow on Long Island with 12.5 inches.

Highway Superintendent Gio Woodson said around noon that about three-quarters of the plowing around town was done; he’s hoping to have all the streets done by 3 p.m., he said.

“We’re hoping the wind dies down so we can send everyone home,” he said.

Riverhead Town Hall opened up late today, and Supervisor Sean Walter at one point called a state of emergency last night in order to keep cars off the roads. Governor Andrew Cuomo even ordered the Long Island Expressway closed in light of the snowfall.

But with the snowfall now over, the next challenge Mr. Woodson faces is putting salt down before the roads turn to ice tonight. He urged driving slow; because temperatures are so low, he said it’s too cold for salt to melt any snow on the roads.

“Drive slow. Don’t rush. That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “And if you don’t have to be out there, don’t go.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone expressed concern for a “false sense of security” drivers may have now that the snowfall is over with and roads begin to clear up.

“My big concern is moving forward throughout the day, as people think it’s OK to drive, ice will be on the roads because of the extremely cold conditions,” he said. “People don’t realize, salt doesn’t work at a certain temperature. It’s going to stay there until it warms up.”

Joey Picca, meteorologist with the NWS, said that while a typical low temperature on Long Island would be in the mid-20s this time of year, overnight lows expected tonight could drop to the zero to 5-degree range. In order for salt to do its job on the roads, said Mr. Woodson, temperatures around 30 degrees would be ideal — though with the sun out, and more cars on the road, conditions are becoming more favorable.

01/03/14 6:32am

snowA state of emergency remained in effect through 8 a.m. this morning in Riverhead, as about five inches of snow had fallen throughout the town by 5 a.m., according to the office of Supervisor Sean Walter.

The snowfall has brought with it “dangerously low” temperatures, the supervisor announced this morning, as he urged residents to stay indoors as highway crews continue to clear roads this morning. Mr. Walter lifted the emergency measure at 8 a.m.

“Travel is not recommended,” reads a weather and travel advisory. “Roads are snow covered with major drifting on all north-south roads and roads adjacent to open spaces.”

According to the National Weather Service, six inches of snow had fallen by 4 a.m. at its station in Upton. And power provider PSEG — who took over for the Long Island Power Authority at the start of the new year — reported just a handful of outages (39 to be exact) as of 6:47 a.m.

In an interview Friday morning, the supervisor noted that the state of emergency would likely remain in effect through 8 a.m., and said town hall’s opening will be delayed until 11 a.m.

Highway Superintendent Gio Woodson reported whiteout conditions and said he’s seen about 4 to 5 inches of snow across town. Highway crews started hitting the streets around 11 p.m. last night, though after seeing a lack of snow on the ground, took a respite before heading back out at 3 a.m.

Crews are hitting the main roads first, he said, and following up with developments once daylight hits, he said, adding that winds make it a little hard to determine exactly how much has come down.

“All in all, we’re doing OK,” he said. “We just need the winds to die down.”

According to the NWS, coastal flooding remains a threat as well, particularly on the north shore. A coastal flood advisory is in effect starting at 10 a.m., ending at 2 p.m.

“Minor beach erosion will be possible along the twin forks area of the Long Island Sound.”

The town noted that in particular, Creek Road in Wading River and Beach Way in Baiting Hollow could be at risk.

01/02/14 4:35pm
01/02/2014 4:35 PM

UPDATE: Officials announced that the LIE will remain closed in both directions until 8 a.m., limiting traffic to emergency personnel.

ORIGINAL STORY: Long Island Expressway will be closed to traffic at midnight tonight, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced, as a snowstorm dumps anywhere from five to nine inches of snow tonight into Friday morning.

The LIE will be closed until at least 5 a.m. and a decision to reopen the highway will be made between 3:30 and 4 a.m., Mr. Cuomo said.

Mr. Cuomo said a state-wide state of emergency has been declared and he urged residents to stay off the roads.

In Riverhead, highway superintendent Gio Woodson said his crews are ready for the storm. Click here to read more.

01/02/14 4:14pm
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Highway department assistant superintendent Mark Gajowski loads a truck up with sand/salt mixture at the highway department yard Thursday morning.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Highway department assistant superintendent Mark Gajowski loads a truck up with sand/salt mixture at the highway department yard Thursday morning.

Update: Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter declared a state of emergency starting at 9 p.m. tonight, Thursday, as a coastal storm approaching the area is expected to bring high winds and dump up to 10 inches of snow.

Mr. Walter cautioned cars to remain off town roadways and that residents along coastlines, especially the Long Island Sound in Wading River and Baiting Hollow, should prepare for coastal flooding and erosion.

Vehicles parked on public roadways during a state of emergency are subject to towing.

Original story: Though a large snowfall looms Thursday night into Friday, after snowfalls of 21.5 inches in 2010 and over two feet last winter, highway superintendent Gio Woodson said on Thursday he’s more than ready for this next one.

“A storm’s a storm. We do the same thing every time,” he said.

Mr. Woodson said Thursday afternoon that the town roads had been sanded and with most of the snowfall expected after midnight, the calm before the storm has set in.

Related: LIE to close at midnight

“Now it’s time to take a break, take a chill pill, rest up and get ready for tonight,” said Mr. Woodson.

While the National Weather Service website warns that anywhere from five to nine inches could come tonight, with another one two two inches tomorrow, NWS meteorologist Joe Pollina said that the East End is likely to fall on the higher end of the range.

“The twin forks, and Riverhead area, will likely be closer to the 10-inch range, with western Suffolk closer to eight inches,” he said. Mr. Pollina added that the bulk of snow should arrive after midnight, with minor accumulation after sunrise.

Mr. Woodson will be fighting this storm with new covers for his salt barns, finally. Constructed in 2011 at a cost of over $700,000, the structures were badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy less than six months later. The town proceeded to sue three of the companies associated with the construction of the barns, and remains in court on the matters. The town’s insurance paid for the new covers — which were fixed about a month ago — and will reimburse its insurance company should litigation prove successful, according to Supervisor Sean Walter.

He added that with last year’s storm under their belt, and plenty of other bigger ones before this blizzard, crews are at the ready.

“Everybody’s ready. It doesn’t look like a terrible 24-inch snowstorm,” he said. “It’s cause it’s the first one of the year, so everybody is a little anxious.”

01/02/14 9:33am
JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | All school activities are cancelled today and tomorrow in RCSD.

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | All school activities are cancelled today and tomorrow in RCSD.

While the general student population is out on winter break, Riverhead Central School District announced this morning that in anticipation of a heavy snowfall expected today, all school-related practices and activities will be cancelled on Thursday and Friday.

According to the district, school offices will be closed on Friday as well.

Shoreham-Wading River followed suit on Thursday afternoon, informing district parents that all school buildings will be closed Thursday afternoon starting at 2 p.m., and through Friday. McGann-Mercy cancelled all afternoon/evening activities on Thursday and all on Friday.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning starting at 1 p.m. on Thursday, forecasting up to 10 inches of snow in total in the area into Friday. Three to seven inches are forecast through Thursday night, with another three expected on Friday.

Check back with the Riverhead News-Review throughout the storm for the latest information.

02/12/13 4:17pm
02/12/2013 4:17 PM

A Wading River man was arrested for driving while intoxicated after getting his car stuck in snow during the big blizzard, New York State police said Tuesday.

Joseph Bunch Jr., 58, was arrested about 8 p.m. Friday for aggravated DWI after getting his car stuck along Route 25 in Riverhead, police said.

Mr. Bunch is due to appear in Town Justice Court Wednesday, police said.

Riverhead Police Car

02/08/13 12:05pm
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.”


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


“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.

[email protected]

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.