Winter storm: Latest updates and what Long Island needs to know
Here are snow updates from Newsday staff around Long Island, with a few helpful websites and tips for dealing with the weather.
*FORECAST: Latest is for 6 to 10 inches of snow. Get the latest weather forecast. newsday.com/weather
*TRAVEL: The Long Island Expressway was closed to all traffic in Nassau and Suffolk counties after an order Thursday from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Also, the LIRR will follow its weekend schedule. See the latest traffic and LIRR delays. newsday.com/traffic
*AIRPORTS: More than 2,300 flights have been canceled nationwide. Check out delays at airports in the region at newsday.com/flighttracker. All Long Island MacArthur Airport flights scheduled after 6 p.m. today have been canceled.
*POWER OUTAGES: At about 2:30 a.m. Friday, there were 736 customers without power across Long Island, according to PSEG Long Island's website, which shot up from about 170 an hour earlier.
*CLOSINGS: Hundreds of schools and groups have announced closings or cancellations. Find out what’s closed. newsday.com/closings
*SHARE: Send in your photos and videos at newsday.com/sharewinter. Share your tweets, Instagram and Twitter photos using #LIsnow.
Per the Town of Oyster Bay website, sanitation and recycling collection will be suspended Friday and picked up on the next scheduled day.
All town programs and activities have been canceled until further notice – check back to oysterbaytown.com for updates.
All programs and activities at town community centers are canceled Friday.
Hector Ruiz, a maintenance worker at a six-story apartment building along the Long Beach boardwalk, pushed a salt spreader along the sidewalk.
He was the only one in sight at 11:20 p.m. Thursday night.
A biting, strong wind was blowing from the north and several inches of snow drifted from one side of Broadway to the other. A city plow came down the street.
"We're all trying to get a start on the snow," said Ruiz, 26, of Island Park. "If you let it pile up it's bad...People will have to go to work tomorrow. They depend on me to get rid of the snow."
Long Beach officials said they had deployed the city's entire snow removal fleet: more than 40 trucks equipped with plows and earth-moving tractors. -- James T. Madore
Town of Babylon Department of Public Works Commissioner Tom Stay provided the following update to Newsday reporter Denise M. Bonilla:
Ninety-five plows are out on the roads in the Town of Babylon now, will continue through the overnight hours. The drivers are contending with sustained winds and frigid temperatures. Most of the town has seen about 3-5 inches of snowfall so far, with another 3-5 inches expected overnight. With temperatures around 20 degrees, roads are very icy, with snow drifts blowing on to the roads. Full plowing operation will continue through tomorrow afternoon, along with salting and sanding.
Emergency personnel at the helm of the snow removal efforts huddled inside the secondary Town Hall building on Main Street late Thursday night, ready to pull an all-nighter while tackling the winter storm.
Town fire marshals, members of public safety and department of public works, along with elected officials, hunkered down while the potential blizzard made its entrance.
Constituent services reps will also be manning the phones all night, fielding questions and concerns from residents. About 100 calls had been placed by 11 p.m., according to Town Councilman Anthony Senft, which were mostly from residents reminding crews to plow their streets. No power or heat outages or motor vehicle accidents had yet been reported to the emergency operations center.
At the same time, roughly 400 vehicles were already clearing the first layers of snow off the town's primary emergency evacuation routes and trouble spots in hilly sections of Ronkonkoma and Hauppauge, Senft said.
Brining solution had been put on the roads earlier as a preventive measure, but as the snow started to fall, the mixture had been replaced with salt and sand in an effort to combat freezing roads with the dropping temperatures.
Crews manning the snow plows "will be out all night until the snow stops," Senft said, continuously plowing the streets.
The town has prepared three warming centers that could be opened tomorrow, if needed. One is slated to open at noon tomorrow at the Caesar Trunzo Senior Center (16 Second Ave., Brentwood).
While a flood watch was issued for Suffolk and Nassau counties, Senft said he believed the South Shore will escape flooding problems. Just in case, pump trucks are at the ready.
"We'll continually monitor those areas. We have park rangers out who will be driving throughout the town to apprise us if anything does happen," Senft said. -- Sarah Armaghan
National Weather Service says one heavy band of snow going through southern Nassau and most of Suffolk could bring as much as 2 inches of snow per hour through 1 a.m.
At 10 p.m. Thursday night, the wind whipped sand and snow into a blinding spray in Rocky Point.
One man, Mike, tried to make it down to the water with his two kids and dog. "The kids thought it would be fun," he said.
But they never made it to the beach.
"We couldn't get down there," he said. "It was too windy." -- David M. Schwartz
Huntington Highway Superintendent Pete Gunther, who was just elected in November and is to be sworn in Sunday, says it's been a long, busy day, but at 11 p.m. said he was still raring to go.
"We're here and working," he said in a phone interview. "We'll be here until it's done. Since 8 tonight we've had 265 pieces of equipment out on the road. Earlier we put down a briny barrior. We're plowing, later we'll be sanding. We're all over the town." -- Deborah S. Morris
Long Beach officials deploying city's entire snow removal fleet: more than 40 plows, trucks, tractors, etc. -- James T. Madore
Update in Islip from Councilman Anthony Senft as of 10:55 p.m.: "So far, so good." More than 400 plows out, no accidents or power outages reported. -- Sarah Armaghan
At 9:45 p.m. the streets of Huntington were mostly deserted. At the Huntington Long Island Rail Road Station, there was the soft murmer of running car engines as a few drivers waited for the next train to arrive.
An eerie yellowish glow covered the area from a mix of snow, taxi lights and the illuminated travel board. Inside a few travelers hoping to make their way in either direction settled in.
Rei Yevoto, a Amityville native who now makes his home in suburban Maryland, was waiting for the 10:03 p.m. train to Penn Station, a trip that was cutting his New Year's holiday about eight hours short.
"I had planned to catch a train in the morning but I have to get back to work for tomorrow evening," he said as his iPhone recharged in a wall outlet. "But I'm afraid if I don't get an earlier bus, work won't be too happy with me calling in so I figured I better start out tonight."
And he wasn't going to be choosy about which train would get him to Manhattan.
"If that one doesn't come, whichever one comes next," he said. "I've never liked the cold and I really don't like snow. Winter just started but I am already tired of snow!"
In Huntington Bay, Mayor Herb Morrow said the storm had come in slower than they expected, but the winds were up.
"Right now the winds are ripping," he said in a phone interview. "Our big concern is the midnight high tide. We'll just have to wait to see what happens. But we're ready." -- Deborah S. Morris
The waters are active and the winds whipping in Bay Shore as the snow starts to accumulate. -- Sarah Armaghan
Due to the Town of Brookhaven's state of emergency, roads closed at 9 p.m. so plows can do their thing. -- Carl MacGowan
Few cars on major Long Beach streets such as Broadway; lone walker fighting the wind as she walks east on new boardwalk. -- James T. Madore
Mastic Beach Property Owners Association has canceled tomorrow's "Country Dancing" event. -- Patrick Whittle
Tweet from the National Weather Service New York handle, @NWSNewYorkNY: Doing close to 1"/hr snowfall rates here at the office. Similar conditions around much of the area right now.
Who do you call in a weather emergency? Check out our list: http://bit.ly/1hknqL2
From a news release: Due to the blizzard and frigid temperatures, Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano and the American Red Cross announce the opening of Emergency Shelters as of 8 p.m. tonight. The following locations are open:
* Glen Cove Senior Center, 130 Glen St., Glen Cove
* Massapequa - McKenna Elementary School, 210 Spruce St., Massapequa Park
* Port Washington – Paul Schreiber High School, 101 Campus Dr., Port Washington
Are you concerned about keeping your pets safe during the storm? Here are some tips: http://bit.ly/1kdnfTK
The Jericho School District announced via its Twitter account that it will be closed for all staff and students Friday.
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth spent Thursday afternoon visiting the town's three warming centers, which featured heat and warm beverages and snacks. None of the three had hosted any guests by Thursday afternoon.
"As long as people have heat, there's no reason to leave their homes," Bosworth noted as she visited the Port Washington Senior Center, one of the heating centers. "Hopefully they won't need it."
The warming centers were scheduled to be open until 9 p.m. Thursday, unless the town determines they were needed for longer hours.
Bosworth, who officially took office on Wednesday, also toured the town's emergency command center and its 311 call center, housed in the "Yes We Can" community center in Westbury.
Vincent Malizia, deputy commissioner of IT for the town, said the town's 311 center had gotten more than 700 calls by 5 p.m. Thursday. A typical Thursday will see about 600 calls to the center for the whole day, he said.
Callers were mostly asking about plowing and other snow-related issues in anticipation of the storm, Malizia said.
The call center will have extended hours through the storm, he said, and will likely open again at 6 a.m. Friday.
Bosworth and other town officials planned an 8 p.m. conference call Thursday to strategize about the town's storm response, which included a heavy presence by town highway workers, among others.
Over 80 pieces of equipment and over 100 workers were expected to be out, responding to the storm, Thursday night, according to town spokesman Ryan Mulholland.
"The most important thing is for people to stay off the roads," Bosworth said at a special town board meeting Thursday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, commuters got off at the Manhasset Long Island Rail Road station. One woman, who did not want to give her name, said she had traveled to her office Thursday, only to find out that it had closed in anticipation of the storm when she arrived. She took the train back to Manhasset, arriving at about 1:30 p.m. -- Jennifer Barrios
During the Thursday evening commute, roads were wet and some side streets in Bay Shore still had remnants of the light snowfall from earlier in the day.
John Dasdemir, 45, a cashier at the Hess on Bay Shore Road said about double the number of normal customers began flocking to the gas station around noon.
"A lot of people are coming with gas cans," Dasdemir said. "When they snow starts, nobody comes out until the day after. They come now because they don't go outside too much if it's not an emergency."
Dasdemir said the gas station will stay open 24 hours during the storm.
Matt Kowinsky, 24, a construction worker from Bay Shore, filled up a gas can with diesel while his girlfriend Daniele Economico, 24, an administrative assistant, took refuge from the chilly winds in their SUV.
"We're just trying to be extra cautious. We normally get a delivery but we're low on fuel to heat the house," Economico said. "The first thing we thought about was [Superstorm] Sandy, when all the gas stations were closed, so we wanted to make sure we had enough."
Rory Brosnan, 20, of West Islip, was filling up the tank on his Jeep Grand Cherokee on his way home from work as a mechanic in Babylon. Unfazed by the potential blizzard on its way, Brosnan was focused on getting ready to work: both at home and at his job.
"I don't even worry about these storms anymore. I don't like stressing about it," Brosnan said with a chuckle. "I've gotta be at work extra early tomorrow to help shovel out the garage. So as soon as I'm done doing my driveway, I'll be there."
-- Sarah Armaghan
Gov. Cuomo announces that the Long Island Rail Road will follow its weekend schedule Friday, noting "safety of MTA riders and employees is the top priority." -- Alfonso Castillo
We hope you don't have to drive during the storm. But if you do, here are some tips to stay safe: http://bit.ly/19Ng0YU
Look on the bright side: Chances are there's going to be a lot of good sledding tomorrow. If you're not sure where to go, here's a primer: http://bit.ly/1cpfCD0
From the Town of Hempstead's Twitter handle: Sanitation and recycling pickup for Friday is canceled. Collections to occur on next regular pickup date.
From a news release: North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth has announced that the town will be opening three warming centers in order to accommodate residents as substantial snowfall and well below freezing temperatures are expected in the next several hours.
The warming centers are now open and closing hours will depend on the severity of the storm. The locations are:
• Michael J. Tully Park Aquatic Activity Center, 1801 Evergreen Avenue, New Hyde Park
• “Yes We Can” Community Center, 141 Garden Street, Westbury
• Port Washington Senior Center, 80 Manorhaven Blvd., Port Washington
Transportation to the warming centers will be available to residents by calling 311 in the Town of North Hempstead or 516-869-6311 outside the Town. The 311 Call Center will also be extending their hours of operation to accommodate storm-related questions.
Southampton town supervisor Anna Throne-Holst declared a “limited state of snow emergency” throughout the town as of 3 p.m. Thursday. All town facilities were to close at 6 p.m. and will remain closed on Friday.
She said town residents should remove their vehicles from curbsides to make it easier to plow roads, and authorized the highway department to clear private roads so that emergency vehicles can get through.
-- Mitchell Freedman
Long Island is getting its own Winter Classic tonight, although it will be played indoors. Despite the inclement weather the Islanders will take on the Chicago Blackhawks at 7 p.m. But the team announced in a news release that fans who don't feel comfortable driving tonight can exchange tonight's tickets for a future game. For more information, contact the team's customer service department at -800-882-ISLES, ext. 2.
In Riverhead, Supervisor Sean Walter canceled the 7 p.m. town planning board meeting because of snow warnings. There were to be two public hearings on site plans for two separate farm stands, one on Main Road in Jamesport and the other on Sound Avenue in Riverhead. They will be rescheduled.
Walter, in a prepared statement, said: “As this blizzard makes its way across Long Island expecting to hit our Town this evening into the morning hours, I want our residents to know that our Highway Department and Office of Emergency Management have made the necessary preparations to keep our streets open and safe.”
He urged town residents to refrain from driving during the storm and to park off the street to allow crews to remove snow and ice in an efficient manner.
Riverhead Highway Superintendent George Woodson sent his crews home and had them come back around 5 p.m. He said they would continue to salt main roads, and expected the hard work to start sometime around 9 p.m.
“We’re going to be out all night,” he said. He expects the worst of the storm to be over around 5 or 6 a.m., and did not predict how much snow would accumulate or how big the drifts would get.
-- Mitchell Freedman
The normally bustling South Bay Diner on East Sunrise Highway was quiet Thursday afternoon.
Hostess Deanna Cavasinni, 22, said the diner normally stays open until midnight but would "play it by ear" with up to 10 inches of snow forecast and some major roads expected to be closed.
The restaurant's staff had already mixed a load of salt for the parking lot, she said, and might find themselves shoveling snow in the morning.
"We've got a list of phones for everybody, and we're going to help shovel if needed," she said.
-- Nicholas Spangler
Some motorists and the worsening road conditions have made a few drivers nervous to be out on the streets Thursday afternoon.
"You have to be a banana to want to drive in this weather," said Al Valentin, 70, of Shirley, who was at Ronkonkoma train station picking up his son. "People are speeding, driving crazy and not using turn signals."
Valentin said one he gets home, he's staying put.
"It would have to be an emergency for me to go out and do anything," he said.
-- Deon J. Hampton
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said closing the Long Island Expressway should be last resort. He praised Gov. Cuomo for drawing attention to the storm, but said the LIE should only be closed close if impassable. Cuomo later tweeted that the LIE will be closed from midnight Friday to 5 a.m.
-- David Schwartz
Babylon Town officials readied 100 vehicles equipped with snow plows Thursday morning and told crews they would likely work into Friday morning, town officials said.
Southold Town has activated its emergency operations center for the storm, Supervisor Scott Russell said. "We believe we have the issues well in hand," he said. Warming centers have not been opened yet, but all staffing has been put on alert in case they have to be activated, he said.
-- David Schwartz
In Northport, village administrator Gene Guido said highway crews have been out all morning sanding and salting the roads. “We’re prepared and we’re ready.” Guido said village officials have called a few extra drivers in the event they need more people tonight.
-- Mackenzie Issler
Islip Town officials say vehicles are subject to being towed if left on the street during the storm. The town has more than 400 pieces of equipment at the ready to remove snow and drain basins, and remove fallen trees and branches.
-- Sarah Armaghan
Hempstead Town roads will be plowed when snow accumulation reaches 2 inches. Half-dozen departments are part of the cleanup effort. All of the town’s 1,200 miles of roadways have been salted as of noon, town officials said.
-- Aisha Al-Muslim
Roughly 200 Brookhaven Town vehicles are expected to be on municipal roads Thursday to combat snowfall.
Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said about 150 trucks, snow plows and payloaders will come from his department, while another 50 or so parks and waste management vehicles will assist.
A command center has been set up at the highway department, and highway personnel also has a presence at Town Hall in Farmingville.
Officials aren't expected to have storm-related cost figures until after the storm, Losquadro said.
-- Deon Hampton
In Southampton, the town is salting and sanding their roads and reviewing emergency protocol procedures, said Jennifer Garvey, spokeswoman for Southampton.
At senior centers, residents will be sent home today with an extra meal for Friday in case they're snowed in.
Warming centers have not been opened yet, but the situation is being monitored.
In Southold, the town's organizational meeting has been rescheduled to today at 2:30 p.m. It had previously been scheduled for Friday, because of the storm.
-- David Schwartz
* STAYING WARM: If the power goes out, it’s important to know how to stay warm. Gather together. A crowded room becomes warmer than one with just a few people inside. Close doors to all but essential rooms. Open curtains and shades to let the sun's warmth in, then close them at dusk. Wear extra, loose layers of clothing and a head cover, and use layers of blankets on beds. Do not use electrical generators inside, prop open the oven door or keep oven burners on.
*SNOW SHOVELING TIPS: Wear breathable layers, and avoid heavy woolen clothing, manmade materials or other materials that don’t allow perspiration to evaporate. Push, don’t lift. If you push the snow to the side rather than trying to lift the snow to remove it, you exert less energy thereby placing less stress on your body. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Pay attention to your surroundings. When shoveling snow near streets, be aware that vehicles may not have good traction in the snow and ice.
* KEEP PIPES FROM FREEZING: The Suffolk County Sheriff's Office reminds residents to keep faucets running on a slow drip if there is any danger of your water pipes freezing. The most vulnerable pipes are those that run through unheated crawl spaces or unprotected areas of the home.
* CLEAR HYDRANTS FOR FIREFIGHTERS: Water utility New York American Water asks homeowners and local businesses to take a few minutes to make sure they keep areas surrounding fire hydrants clear so firefighters can connect their equipment without delays.
* KEEP PETS SAFE: Be alert to frostbite: Skin can turn red, gray, white or scaly. If you believe your pet has frostbite, contact your veterinarian immediately. Always keep ID tags on your pets in the event they should get lost during the storm. Be sure to walk your dog on a leash and minimize exposure time, also taking care to keep all of your pets clean and wiped down after going outside (road salt can irritate or burn pets and can sometimes cause more serious conditions like seizures). If in doubt, be sure to keep your pets indoors throughout the duration of the storm.