Up to a foot of snow is possible, and 6 to 10 inches probable when a powerful nor'easter bears down on Long Island beginning Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service said Wednesday in a winter storm watch.
The governor's office plans to monitor LIPA's preparation and response to the storm, the first major weather system to hit fragile Island communities since the one-two punch of superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29 and a nor'easter a week later.
The North Shore and North and South forks could see the higher end of the predicted snowfall range, and possibly an inch or two more, John Murray, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's station in Upton, said Wednesday afternoon.
Blizzard conditions could bring down tree limbs and cause scattered power outages, forecasters said.
Mark Gross, spokesman for the Long Island Power Authority, didn't have specifics on storm preparations, but said the utility and its service provider, National Grid, "are closely monitoring the storm and continue to prepare for the forecast."
"We are closely monitoring the storm and taking necessary precautions, including communicating to National Grid that they need to be ready with advance preparations and response plans," he said. "We will not accept any excuse for the utility being unprepared, especially since we can see this storm coming well in advance."
LIPA and National Grid were heavily criticized after their response to Sandy, in which nearly all Long Island customers lost power, some for weeks. Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed, and some still lack roofs and walls.
Sustained winds of 25 mph to 35 mph, gusting to 60 mph, is forecast, the weather service said. Expect light snow to start later Thursday, most likely after midnight, Murray said, with around a half-inch accumulating. Snow is expected to transition to rain Friday morning, Murray said. The real wallop is expected Friday night, he said, with a switch back to snow, possibly mixed with ice pellets, and increasing winds.
"Ingredients are in play for a fairly impactful storm, especially on Long Island," said Tim Morrin, also a meteorologist in Upton. What's brewing now "is as classic a nor'easter as you get in these parts."