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Long IslandSuffolk

After messy commute, sunny skies

Visa Kumar, front, with her husband Nitun, shovel

Visa Kumar, front, with her husband Nitun, shovel their driveway on in Roslyn. (Jan. 21, 2011) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The winter storm that greeted Long Island's morning rush hour Friday with an estimated 3 to 5 inches of snow made for slow and slushy road conditions. But by late morning, the fast moving storm had made its way east, leaving behind clear, sunny skies.

And the threat of bitter cold.

Through the weekend, temperatures are expected to drop into the teens, with windchill factors of near zero, the National Weather Service in Upton said.

Sunday's low temperature is expected to be 7 degrees, the service said.

The bitter cold, combined with weekend wind gusts up to 21 mph, won't lift from the area until Monday. And then on Tuesday more snow is likely.

Friday's fast-moving winter storm, as expected, lasted into the morning commute, ending between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. over most of Long Island. A winter weather advisory expired at 10 a.m.

Preliminary numbers show Islip recorded 3.5 inches of snow; East Northport, 3.0; Centereach, 4.0; and Shoreham and Stony Brook, each with 4.5, according to the service. In Nassau County, the heaviest recorded snowfall was 4.9 inches in Woodmere; 4.0 in Floral Park and 3.9 in Levittown and Wantagh.

With snow accumulating overnight, dozens of Long Island school districts announced delayed starting times.

Many secondary roads were blanketed with snow at about 5 a.m. A stretch of the Long Island Expressway, westbound between Exit 64 and Exit 53, was being cleared by plows as early as 5 a.m., but visibility was at a half-mile or less, according to the weather service, as traffic moved slowly - in some cases 30 mph or less - west of the Sagtikos Parkway.

The Nassau and Suffolk police departments said there were no major traffic accidents overnight or in the early morning hours. Nassau police did issue a traffic alert, warning of icy road conditions and numerous spinouts and minor accidents. The alert advised drivers to reduce speed and give themselves extra time for the morning commute.

The state Department of Transportation website had four traffic alerts between 5:30 a.m. and 7:35 a.m., all of which appeared to be minor accidents.

At about 5:30 a.m., traffic cameras at the site showed the major thoroughfares, including the Northern State and Southern State parkways, with snow-covered roads and slow-moving traffic. By about 7:30 a.m., most of the major roads appeared to have been plowed and traffic was moving at near normal speeds.

The Long Island Rail Road expected a normal morning commute, and had two cancellations and about 10 delayed trains during the morning schedule, according to alerts from the service. Most of the issues were related to equipment problems, the service said.

The LIRR did issue a memo to commuters, urging all customers to take extra care when traveling.

" ... all MTA agencies have activated winter weather plans to keep tracks and platforms clear and safe," said spokesman Aaron Donovan in the memo. "... Please allow extra time for travel during the storm and check mta.info for the latest service updates."

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said the county would activate its nonemergency hotline at 5 a.m. Friday. Residents are urged to call 888-684-4274 "for assistance with any snow-related situation that is not life-threatening or an emergency," Mangano said in a news release.

Ed Schneyer, Suffolk County's director of emergency management, said residents can call 631-852-COPS for nonemergency issues during storms.

Airports were reporting near normal operations, despite the snow. General arrival and departure times at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports were 15 minutes or less, according to the Federal Aviation Administration website. Long Island MacArthur Airport was reporting three delays on flights scheduled for Friday.

All airline travelers are urged to call their carriers for specific delays and cancellations.

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