Gusting winds and heavy, blowing snow are expected under a blizzard warning issued for Suffolk County in effect from 1 a.m. Thursday to 1 a.m. Friday, the National Weather Service says.
Snowfall of 8 inches to 1 foot was predicted for Suffolk, the weather service said in its warning.
A winter storm warning is also in effect for Nassau County from 1 a.m. Thursday to 1 a.m. Friday, with 5 to 8 inches of snow likely, also with higher amounts possible.
“Use caution when heading out Thursday morning as snow is expected to pick up in intensity around the start of the morning commute,” the weather service said in a Wednesday night tweet.
Travel conditions on Thursday will range from “very dangerous to impossible, including during the morning and evening commutes,” the blizzard warning said. Residents are advised to stay off the roads, but if you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you and “if you get stranded, stay with your vehicle,” the weather service advised.
The storm certainly won’t be delivering the highest snow amounts seen on the Island, “in part because it’s going to move so quickly, so that’s our saving grace,” said Bill Korbel, News 12 Long Island meteorologist.
Snow was expected to be heavy for the morning commute and through around noontime, he said, then begin to taper off in the afternoon and clearing the area by around 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., based on the Wednesday night forecast.
Expect whiteout conditions from blowing snow, as winds gust up to 55 mph, with “significant drifting,” particularly in exposed areas, the blizzard warning said. And residents will want to look out for “unsecured Christmas decorations,” which could blow away or be damaged.
Still, a track shift to the west for this rapidly deepening coastal storm could mean parts of Suffolk could see snowfallof a few inches less “due to a greater chance of mixed precipitation,” the weather service said. An eastward shift would lead areas to see the lower end of the forecast range.
Snowfall rates of greater than an inch an hour at times and strong, gusty winds will make for messy commutes, as well as “big impacts through the day,” said Pete Wichrowski, weather service meteorologist.
Blizzard conditions, which are unrelated to snowfall amounts, occur with three hours or more of sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 mph or higher, and “considerable falling and/or blowing snow,” bringing reduced visibility frequently of less than a quarter of a mile, the weather service says.
The storm is also expected to bring coastal flooding Thursday, with an advisory in effect from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for areas along the Island’s southern and eastern bays, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for “vulnerable areas” along the western Long Island Sound, with possible shallow flooding, some beach erosion and wave splash-over.
“New York is no stranger to severe winter weather,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday. “We have assets and personnel deployed throughout the state and we are ready to respond when and where it is needed.”
After the coastal storm clears Long Island on Thursday night, a “dangerously cold shot of arctic air” takes its place, the weather service said.
Before factoring in wind chill, Friday could see highs in the midteens, with Saturday looking at the lower teens, said Faye Morrone, weather service meteorologist. The coldest point is expected for early morning Sunday, with temperatures “in the lower single digits pretty much Islandwide.”
Said Korbel, “it’s going to be the coldest weather of the winter so far.”