Ice makes for treacherous travel conditions at Jericho Turnpike and...

Ice makes for treacherous travel conditions at Jericho Turnpike and Deer Park Road in Huntington Station. (Feb. 2, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Arnold Miller

It was probably worse in the Ice Age.

But, considering the state of the frozen Earth that Long Islanders awoke to Wednesday morning, it’s hard to imagine it more glacial than this.

The National Weather Service has issued an ice storm warning for Nassau and Suffolk, advising that “dangerously icy conditions” are expected and warning commuters: “Travel will be extremely dangerous through early this morning with untreated roadways becoming a sheet of ice ... Significant amounts of ice accumulations will make travel dangerous or impossible.”

The warning, which will remain in effect until 9 a.m., also said: “These type of ice accumulations will knock down tree limbs and power lines.”

As of 6 a.m. a redux of the rash of late-night fender-benders that plagued the evening commute Tuesday had yet to emerge. But, police said, that was likely because crews had down extensive sanding, salting and brining of main roads in preparation -- and because there appeared to be fewer vehicles on the roads so far.

However, the threat of ice and black ice remains very real, forecasters said. Between a half-inch and three-quarters-of-an-inch of ice accumulation is expected by mid-morning, when temperatures finally begin to climb above the freezing mark.

More than 600 schools or organizations on Long Island have closed or have issued 2-hour delayed starts.

The Long Island Rail Road announced it will run on a weekend schedule Wednesday and will have no train service to Hunterspoint Avenue and Long Island City. The New York City Transit system will honor LIRR tickets for the No. 7 train at Woodside, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.

In a statement released early this morning, the railroad said the weekend schedule was due to “wintry icy conditions.” Extra trains, however, will be added east of Ronkonkoma and on the West Hempstead branch. Peak fares will remain in effect.

The railroad also announced station waiting rooms would remain open “round-the-clock through normal hours on Thursday.”

It urged customers to “exercise caution” entering and exiting trains and also urged them to listen to “stay clear of the platform edges, use handrails on staircases and walk carefully when entering or exiting stations.”

To get ahead of the potential ice storm, LIRR spokesman Joe Calderone said the railroad has fitted its trains with a "record amount" of ice scraper shoes -- 110 of them. The abrasive steel shoes scrape ice from the third rail as trains travel the system.

The railroad also activated its highest weather alert level and called in "hundreds" of extra employees, Calderone said. "The goal,” he said, “is to run as much service as possible.”

Area airports were also expected to be impacted by conditions, especially morning departures and arrivals. In fact, most major airlines have posted travel advisories for flights using Long Island-MacArthur Airport, Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark-Liberty between now and Thursday, in some cases offering travelers the chance to change or rebook flights over a 14-day span with no change fee.

Officials are advising air travelers to consult with their airlines regarding flight status Wednesday -- before traveling to the airport.

Meanwhile, the Long Island Power Authority is reporting almost 8,500 outages as of 8 a.m., most of them in Nassau. Hardest hit are North Valley Stream, where more than 1,662 customers were without power.

It was not immediately clear when full service might be restored. As of 6:15 a.m. LIPA said it was still assessing the circumstances of those outages.

On Tuesday night, certain iced-over locations became magnets for accidents. Dix Hills Assistant Fire Department Chief Tom Magno said there had been six separate accidents between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on the Northern State Parkway west of Deer Park Ave. "It's terrible," Magno said. "The state's stretched so thin that we've been waiting here and they can't seem to get a sector car here."

There were no injuries, he said, but said a bad stretch of ice at that location had cars skidding all over the place. The state police said they saw similar kinds of accidents on both the Northern State and Southern State, while the Suffolk Sheriff's office said there were 27 wrecks on its roadways between 1 and 6 p.m. Tuesday.

As a result the New York State Department of Transportation said it had extra workers out overnight pounding roads with salt. "People need to be taking it good and slow," NYSDOT spokeswoman Eileen Peters said.

With Gary Dymski & Newsday.com staff

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