On Long Island, it's snow wonder - again

=Frank Lennon of Levittown stands in a snow- =Frank Lennon of Levittown stands in a snow- and slush-filled parking lot at the Long Island Railroad Hicksville station as he cleans snow off his car after commuting by train from Manhattan. (Feb. 26, 2010) Photo Credit: Photo by Kathy Kmonicek

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The two-day rain-and-snow storm petering out this weekend left as much as 14 inches of snow on Long Island, strained town budgets, exhausted bad-weather days set aside by many school districts, and seemed to leave the two counties’ 2.7 million inhabitants ready to cry out, “Enough already!”

Forecasters are predicting occasional snow showers Saturday and Sunday, with the possibility ofl more in the middle of next week.

Officials in Brookhaven, Riverhead, Southampton towns and Suffolk County said plowing and salting budgets for the year are tapped out.

The storm was even too much for a man named Winter — mail carrier Scott Winter — who couldn’t make his usual rounds pushing a cart for the Manhasset Post Office because sidewalks were buried. His supervisor gave him a van, but that got stuck. A colleague in a mail truck came to push him out, but that got stuck. Finally, two strangers freed the van.

“I’m hoping that won’t happen again,” Winter said, but a minute later his tires were spinning again.

There were about 400 accidents reported Friday on Long Island roads, with no fatalities.

Friday night, the LIE eastbound at Exit 51 Deer Park Avenue was closed for about an hour due to icy conditions.

While some cursed, others marveled at the storm’s power.

“This storm is remarkable in a couple ways,” said Tim Morrin, observation program leader at the National Weather Service in Upton. “The strength of the storm is strong, as strong as a Category 1 hurricane.”

But meteorologists said relatively warm temperatures kept the snow totals down. “Had it been lighter and fluffier, accumulations would have been even higher,” the service’s Brandon Smith said.

As of 9 p.m. Friday, 9.5 inches of snow had fallen at Brookhaven National Laboratory, bringing the February total to 27.5 inches. The snowiest February — since records began in 1947 — was in 1967, when 32.5 inches fell. So far, this season is tied as the fourth snowiest on record on Long Island, with 66.5 inches at Upton.

For many retailers, the pain was economic as customers hunkered down in front of the fireplace instead of venturing out. “Not one customer today,” said owner K.J. Leehe of New Best dry cleaners in Port Jefferson. The Long Island Power Authority said it had as many as 1,400 customers without electricity Friday — out of a total 1.1 million ratepayers.

The Long Island Rail Road carried 35 percent fewer riders than usual in the morning rush and said that of 145 morning peak trains, 102 were late and 11 were canceled.

Most schools on the Island closed — many for the third or fourth time this winter — forcing districts to start planning for shortened spring breaks, despite its potential disruption of family vacations. State law requires districts to provide at least 180 days of instruction, and state education officials normally do not grant waivers unless districts have used up all holidays first.

“This has been unprecedented, except possibly in Alaska,” said Wendell Chu, who was president of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association and is superintendent of East Islip schools.

The district plans to notify parents next week that classes will be held Friday, May 28, just before Memorial Day weekend — usually a day that district students have off.

With Chau Lam, Ellen Yan and Dave Marcus With Chau Lam, Ellen Yan and Dave Marcus

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