Winter storm warning for Long Island; up to 10 inches of snow possible

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It's called snow fatigue, and more than a few Long Islanders were suffering from it as they woke up Thursday to a nor'easter that could drop as much as 10 inches of snow through Friday morning.

Since the first of the year, Long Island MacArthur Airport has seen a total of 35.4 inches, quite a jump from the norm of 9.3 inches for the Jan. 1 to Feb. 11 period.

The snow is "getting to be a little bit of pain," said Anthony Crisostomo, 50, an HVAC sales representative from West Babylon, who was out shopping Wednesday for guess what -- salt and a new snow shovel.

Still, a winter storm warning was in effect for Long Island beginning at midnight, through 6 a.m. Friday, with 8 to 10 inches expected for most of Nassau County and for portions of western Suffolk roughly north of the Long Island Expressway. The rest of the Island was looking at 6 to 8 inches, with 4 to 6 expected for the tip of the South Fork, the weather service said.

Northeast winds of 20 to 30 mph are predicted, with occasional gusts up to 45 mph, forecasters said.

The warning means that "severe winter weather conditions are expected," as well as "significant amounts of snow," making travel dangerous, the weather service said.

As of last night, computer models had snow expected to begin between 1 and 3 a.m. Thursday, then turn to rain or a wintry mix later in the morning, around 9 to 11 a.m., said David Stark, weather service meteorologist in Upton.

The morning snow will be heavy and wet, with rates of an inch an hour at times, possibly accumulating 3 inches, as much as 6 inches in areas of northwestern Nassau, Stark said. Visibility is expected to be one-quarter mile or less at times, with winds picking up in the late morning and afternoon, with gusts of 35 mph, occasionally reaching 45 mph, Stark said.

The rain or wintry mix was expected to switch back to snow, likely in the 9 to 11 p.m. range, possibly lasting through 3 or 4 a.m. Friday, but be clear of the area by the morning rush Friday, Stark said.

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The precise wheres and whens of this morning and evening switch-overs, which mean the difference between more rain or more snow, were still uncertain, he said late Wednesday afternoon.

"It's all in the timing," Stark said, and amounts may be adjusted as the storm starts unfolding.

The weather service also issued a coastal flood statement, meaning that minor coastal flooding during high tide late Thursday into early Friday is expected.

The most susceptible areas will be western Long Island Sound and along the barrier islands, where wave action can lead to minor beach erosion.

One person who sees a little brightness in the situation is Karl Luechau, 57, who works in the roofing industry.

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"I would rather not be shoveling snow and ice," he said. But snow can be a boon for business, said Luechau, the territory manager for a Wayne, NJ-based roofing manufacturer.

"I hate shoveling it but it's going to increase our industry business by 30 percent in the upcoming roofing season," Luechau said at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station.

"Every cloud has a silver lining, and this is our silver lining."

With Darran Simon

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