Officials in Nassau and Suffolk counties prepared for the worst Thursday with a blizzard warning that went into effect at 6 p.m., opening warming centers and extending the hours of emergency personnel.
County officials moved to provide safe havens for the homeless and to make sure nonemergency calls could be handled more efficiently.
Across the Island, authorities were concerned about falling temperatures, with predictions that the wind chill Friday night could make it feel like it was below zero. The weather service was forecasting 6 to 10 inches of snow Thursday night into Friday.
Nassau County's nonemergency hotline was activated at noon, meaning all residents facing non-life-threatening emergencies should call 888-684-4274 for assistance during the storm. Those facing life-threatening emergencies should dial 911.
The county's Emergency Shelter Relief Program for the homeless during the winter months is active, officials said. From 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., Monday through Thursday, and from 6 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Monday, shelter placement is provided, officials said. For shelter placement through March 31, the nighttime hotline is 866-927-6233.
Also, the Department of Social Services can be reached at 516-227-8519 or after hours at 516-573-8626.
The snowstorm also prompted Suffolk County's Emergency Operations Center to extend its hours. Officials said the center is staffed with emergency response personnel and was open as early as 8 a.m. It will continue to be staffed throughout the storm, officials said.
Suffolk County Department of Public Works has been treating roads since early Thursday and will continue to monitor and respond to county road conditions, officials said.
Suffolk County police asked nonemergency calls be made to 631-852-2677. Police request 911 be used only in case of immediate physical or medical emergency.
Warming centers open
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and the American Red Cross announced the opening of emergency shelters at the Glen Cove Senior Center, 130 Glen St., Glen Cove; the McKenna Elementary School, 210 Spruce St., Massapequa Park; and Paul Schreiber High School, 101 Campus Drive, in Port Washington.
Hempstead Town announced it will operate warming centers from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Thursday and Friday, officials said. The centers are: Baldwin Senior Center, 1810 N. Grand Ave., Baldwin; Bellmore Senior Center, 2000 Bellmore Ave., Bellmore; East Meadow Senior Center, 1485 Front St., East Meadow; Elmont Senior Center, 138 Elmont Rd., Elmont; Franklin Square Senior Center, 1182 Martha Place, Franklin Square; Green Acres Senior Center, 400 Flower Rd., Valley Stream; Levittown Senior Center, 555 Newbridge Rd., Levittown; Merrick Senior Center, 2550 Clubhouse Rd., Merrick; Oceanside Senior Center, 2900 Rockaway Ave., Oceanside; Rosa Parks Senior Center, 2 Babylon Tpke., Roosevelt; Salisbury Senior Center, 460 Salisbury Park Dr., Westbury; Uniondale / Hempstead Senior Center, 840 Uniondale Ave., Uniondale; Uniondale / Merrick Senior Center, 750 Jerusalem Ave., Uniondale; and Wantagh Senior Center, 1150 Seamans Neck Rd., Wantagh.
The Town of North Hempstead opened three warming centers at noon on Thursday in response to the storm. The centers -- at Michael J. Tully Park Aquatic Activity Center in New Hyde Park, the "Yes We Can" Community Center in Westbury, and the Port Washington Senior Center -- will remain open until town officials determine the most severe weather is over. The town will staff the centers and provide hot beverages. Town residents who want transportation to the sites, or need more information, can call 311 or 516-869-6311.
Southampton Town said that at its senior centers, residents will be sent home Thursday with an extra meal for Friday in case they're snowed in. Officials said Southampton has not opened warming centers yet, but the situation is being monitored.
Activities delayed, canceled
The weather also has closed all Nassau County park activities, beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday. In addition, visiting hours at the Nassau County jail were canceled for Thursday and Friday.
Reconvening after the winter break, some schools on Long Island announced closings and early releases Thursday.
For more information, go to newsday.com/closings.
With Patrick Whittle, Jennifer Barrios and Mitchell Freedman