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.