Region braces for storm; Riverhead schools closed Wednesday

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead Town highway worker Waverly Atkins mixes a sand/salt mixture in preparation for tonight's storm.

Another major snow storm is headed for Riverhead.

The National Weather Service in Upton is predicting 6 to 10 inches of the white stuff to start falling across the region after 8 p.m. Tuesday evening. And an additional 3 to 7 inches is possible Wednesday. The chance of precipitation for Tuesday night is 100 percent with temperatures dipping to 27 degrees.

Wind gusts of 25 to 35 mph are also predicted.

“It’ going to be about a 24-hour storm,” said Lauren Nash, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “We’re looking for it to start to taper off Wednesday.”

A low pressure system that originated off the coast of South Carolina is moving up the East Coast and will meet with another low pressure system, which as of Tuesday morning was over Illinois, just below New York and New Jersey — intensifying the storm that will ultimately hit Long Island, Ms. Nash said.

Temperatures are expected to remain below freezing until Sunday.

Riverhead schools are closed Wednesday, though Thursday is still uncertain, said Superintendent Nancy Carney.

“Unless things change, there is a 100 percent chance of snow for tomorrow so we will close,” she said in an e-mail. “The hard call will be for Thursday pending the conditions of the roads after the storm. We will post information on our website as soon as we make a decision.”

Tuesday night’s Riverhead school board meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium, has not been canceled, Ms. Carney said.

Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead has instituted its emergency response system, according to release from the hospital’s president Andrew Mitchell.  Dorms have been set up for staff who will be working 12-hour shifts and the hospital will be sending out 4-wheel drive vehicles to pick up employees.

Riverhead Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson is advising motorists to be careful — and to stay off the roads if possible. He said his crews have spent time clearing piles of ice from the December blizzard to make room to plow new snow.

“[Residents] should take the day do all their shopping,” he said.”Let us do our job as best we can.”

He said the highway department stayed within its $175,000 snow removal budget last year and is in good shape for 2011.

Meanwhile, New York State has 196 Department of Transportation trucks ready on Long Island to help with snow removal on state roads, according to governor Andrew Cuomo.

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