Update: Blizzard forecast predicts 12 to 16 inches of snow

Downtown Riverhead

The National Weather Service’s latest blizzard warning for Suffolk County predicts 12 to 16 inches of snow Thursday.

The warning remains in effect until 6 p.m.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter declared a Winter Storm Emergency just before 6 a.m. Thursday, urging residents to use caution when driving on slick roads.

Residents are asked to remove vehicles from the street to allow plows to operate easier. According to a release, police are authorized to impound parked or abandoned vehicles that affect the roadways during a snowstorm.

In an interview Thursday morning, Mr. Walter said the snow is heavily packed and warned “if you don’t have four-wheel drive, you definitely should not be out.”

Highway superintendent Gio Woodson said plowing efforts have been going well as not many people are out driving or parked on the roadway.

“It’s just the beginning of the storm, so it’s only going to get worse,” he said. “Stay where you are right now and stay off the roads.”

Riverhead police confirmed three minor crashes have occurred as of 11 a.m. Thursday: the intersection of Church Lane and Sound Avenue in Aquebogue; West Main Street in Riverhead; and Baiting Hollow Drive.

No injuries were report.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone declared a state of emergency at 11 a.m., which allows the county to call for additional assistance from the state and enter into certain agreements for removing snow from roadways.

Winds are estimated to be 25 to 35 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph. The NWS described travel conditions as hazardous and dangerous due to poor visibilities, with possible whiteout conditions. Local power outages from downed trees and power lines are also likely, the alert states.

Temperatures are expected to remain in the 20s, with wind chills between 10 and 20 degrees.

Snow could be heavy at times and some thunder is also possible, the NWS said.

Check back for updates.

• Blizzard photos from Thursday’s winter storm

• Riverehead winter storm closings, event postponements

Photo: Downtown Riverhead around 10 a.m. (Credit: Grant Parpan)