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Drivers beware: ‘Sever storm’ headed to Long Island

A state Department of Transportation sign  on  the

A state Department of Transportation sign  on  the westbound LIE between exits 62 and 61 in Holtsville on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, warns of a "sever storm" coming to Long Island. The typo was later corrected. Credit: James Carbone

Another storm, another dire warning for drivers on Long Island’s highways and parkways.

The folks who brought you a “lizzard warning” around this time last year on Monday morning were saying a “sever storm” is on the way.

Perhaps drivers should be on the lookout for some ax-wielding maniac?

The potential confusion was being caused by electronic signs posted by the state DOT in such places as the Long Island Expressway in Holtsville and on the Meadowbrook Parkway in Westbury.

They were supposed to warn drivers about a “severe storm,” but instead the signs read “Sever storm warning” — without the “e” at the end — and advised motorists to expect high winds as a nor’easter was on the way.

“It’s a simple spelling error,” state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer Post said after being asked about the signs in a telephone interview at about 8:30 a.m. Monday. She said they were corrected an hour later.

Post said the messages are typed onto a computer at the regional traffic management center in Hauppauge, and in an interview Monday afternoon she said that staffers who write the messages had been reminded to double-check their work.

“Up-to-the-minute traffic messages are designed to inform motorists about critical information — in this case that there’s a significant storm coming and they should prepare accordingly,” Post said in a prepared statement. “The misspelling was corrected expeditiously and the staff has been reminded to double check.”

Asked how often the spelling mistakes occur, Post said, “Infrequently — we do thousands and thousands of messages a year.”

Post said she did not know how many of the misspelled signs were posted on Long Island on Monday.

On Jan. 22 of last year an intended DOT blizzard warning instead was displayed as “lizzard warning” — alerting drivers on the Northern State Parkway that perhaps a reptile was expected to hit the area.


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