Winter storm blankets North Fork with snow, closes school buildings, knocks out power for hundreds

A winter snowstorm that dropped more than a half-foot of snow on parts of the North Fork Wednesday night and left hundreds without power will taper off this morning, according to the National Weather Service.

While the brunt of the storm appeared to hit farther east — snowfall totals reported late Wednesday night showed nearly four inches fell in Riverhead and about 6 1/2 in Orient — it was enough to make a mess of the morning commute and close school buildings everywhere.

As of 6 a.m. Thursday nearly 400 PSEG Long Island customers in Southold Town were without power, mostly in Mattituck and Southold. Riverhead Town had only a handful of outages in Aquebogue.

The National Weather service said less than an inch of snow would continue to accumulate Thursday morning, though a winter storm warning remains in effect until 1 p.m. Of greater concern might be a coastal flood advisory issued until this afternoon.

Winds will also die down this morning, but temperatures are not expected to get above the high 20s today. In fact, temperatures aren’t likely to climb above the mid-30s until the weekend, according to the NWS.

Highway crews in both North Fork towns worked through the night and will continue clearing roads Thursday morning. Both towns warned of hazardous road conditions and urged residents to stay home or to drive with caution.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone held a media briefing in Commack Thursday morning and urged residents to stay off the roads unless they are an essential worker and must go to work.

“Let the plow operators do their work now,” he said. “If you are out there, be very cautious.”

He predicted the cleanup will likely continue throughout the rest of the day. With temperatures expected to remain freezing, there could be black ice on some roadways tonight, the county executive cautioned.

He said the timing of the storm worked out well with the heaviest snow falling late Wednesday into early Thursday.

“Please stay off those roads, keep clear,” Mr. Bellone said.

The Suffolk County Transit Bus system will be in operation today, although with a delayed start.

Mr. Bellone said the county has been in constant contact with PSEG Long Island.

“The reports from [Suffolk County Department of Public Works], from the police, we haven’t seen down trees and limbs the way we did in [Tropical Storm] Isaias,” he said. “I think to a great extent, a lot of what was going to come down has come down. That’s good news coming out of this storm.”

The snowy scene in Jamesport Thursday morning. (Credit: Tara Smith)