No. 9 Story of the Year: A near-record year for snowfall

A Calverton resident lets his dog take the lead after a February snowstorm. (Credit: Paul Squire)
A Calverton resident lets his dog take the lead after a February snowstorm. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Long Island’s winter snowfall total for 2013-14 was record-breaking.

When all was said and done, 63.7 inches had fallen, making last winter the second-snowiest on record for Long Island, according to National Weather Service recordings at Islip. While that falls short of the 73.5 inches that fell during the 1995-96 winter season — the highest snow total since record keeping began in 1984 — it beat out the winter of 2003-04 for the No. 2 spot by nearly five inches.

The cold, snowy winter left Riverhead Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson wondering whether the cost of snow removal would break the bank. Riverhead spent over $120,000 on salt and sand, and additional sums to pay union workers overtime to clear the snow. In the end, Mr. Woodson said, the department was able to stay under budget for the season, but “not by much.”
Businesses weren’t spared by the slowdown in sales associated with the large amount of snowfall and persistent cold.

Prominent downtown restaurant The Riverhead Project shut its doors in September. Owner Dennis McDermott blamed the closing in part on the harsh winter of 2014, which made it difficult to fill the restaurant with diners.

Not only did the snow deter people from leaving their homes, other costs associated with the cold also hit business hard last winter, said Riverhead Business Improvement District president Ray Pickersgill, who also owns Robert James Salon and Spa in downtown Riverhead.

“My oil bill was $800 to $1,000 a week and it almost put me out of business,” he said. “It affected all [business]. It was a disaster.”

Top 10 stories of 2014

No. 10: Historic district is history