Winter storm Nemo: Wind could push snow back onto Hudson Valley roads

Martin Villaflor of New City uses a snowblower Martin Villaflor of New City uses a snowblower to clear the driveway of his home on South Little Tor Road as Rockland starts digging out after the weekend snowstorm. (Feb. 9, 2013) Photo Credit: Angela Gaul

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Don't put away those shovels yet.

After people across the Hudson Valley spent at least part of their Saturday digging out from as much as two feet of snow, powerful winds and strong gusts overnight could undo some of that work. The National Weather Service issued a gale warning Saturday night, warning of winds that could push snow back onto driveways, sidewalks and roads.

"Blowing and drifting of the snow will continue through the first half of this evening," the warning read, "limiting visibility and making for hazardous travel."

The warning covered Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties; communities to the south, which took the brunt of the storm, might also get the worst of the winds, according to the forecast.

Sunday temperatures will hover in the mid- to low-30s during the day after dipping to 18 degrees overnight. With a forecast of sunny skies and temperatures above the freezing mark, shovelers might get a little help from the sun as they did Saturday.

The snowstorm, which began Friday and lasted through the night into Saturday, was one of the most severe in recent memory. In Westchester County, Bronxville recorded the highest snowfall at 21.3 inches, while Rockland County saw up to 14 inches. Warwick, in Orange County, was reporting a foot of snow.

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Many, like 68-year-old Ethel Sneed of White Plains, were still digging out on Saturday afternoon.

"I've been out here shoveling since 5:30 this morning and I'm still not done yet," said Sneed as she continued to pluck away at piles of snow on the sidewalk in front of her home on Primrose Street. "I've been living here for 40 years. This is the worst I've seen since sometime in the '90s. But we get through it. We all help each other out, my neighbors have been helping me. They'll do the back of my house while I'll take care of the front."

The storm virtually shut down transportation, with Metro-North suspending service until just before noon Saturday.

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By Saturday night, Hudson Line trains were running on schedule, and the MTA said the Harlem Line would operate on a normal schedule on Sunday. But the New Haven Line, still buried under snow at points, remained suspended.

After thousands of flights were grounded on Friday and Saturday, airports were humming again on Saturday night, and only a handful of Sunday flights were canceled. Both LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports had returned to full schedules, while Westchester County Airport had 5 Sunday cancellations, down from dozens on Friday and Saturday.

Utilities, hoping to avoid a replay of superstorm Sandy when tens of thousands were without power for days, ramped up for the storm by adding extra workers. Outages were minimal, and on Saturday afternoon Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said some local resources may be diverted to Suffolk County, which took the brunt of the storm.

"If they need us, they know we're going to come out with our DPW crews and anything else that they need," Astorino said.

Some residents were pragmatic about the storm.

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"It's about time. We live in New York, you know? We been really lucky the last couple of years, and we were due," said Sarah LaMarca of White Plains.

For others, the snow was a chance to get outside, not hunker down. Henry Sirakovsky, 43, a Haverstraw police officer from Orangeburg, brought his two daughters, Ella, 10, Tess, 5, and their friend Cate Sardo, 5, to the Veterans Memorial Park for a day of sleigh riding and tubing.

"When I looked out the window this morning, I went and changed," said Ella. "I couldn't wait to come out and play."

LONG ISLAND HARDEST HIT

Long Island was hardest hit in the state, with some communities under 30 inches of snow.

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Cuomo said Suffolk County is receiving help from across the state, including from Nassau County and New York City. He said hundreds of snowplows were en route to Suffolk.

At least 175 vehicles, some abandoned, others with drivers inside, remained stuck on snow-covered roadways across Long Island on Saturday afternoon, nearly a day after the largest storm of the season hit the region hard Friday night and into Saturday, officials said.

"The snow just swallowed them up," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone at a news conference Saturday afternoon with Cuomo. "I've never seen anything like this one."

By 2 p.m. Saturday, the sun was shining and the sheer strength of the storm's ability to paralyze Suffolk County roadways became clear even as roads started to reopen.

Officials from across the state were offering to help Long Island dig out.

"I did call County Executive Steve Bellone in Suffolk and offered any assistance from Westchester to Suffolk," Astorino said. "If in any way we can help, we will . . . if they need DPW crews or supplies, we'll go out there."

With The Associated Press, Ellen Yan, Xavier Mascarenas and Karl De Vries

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