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Long Island gets first snowstorm of season

A snow covered sidewalk along Longwood Road in

A snow covered sidewalk along Longwood Road in Middle Island, NY. (Jan. 20, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

Long Islanders woke up Saturday to the first snowstorm of the winter, which forecasters warn could turn to light freezing rain or freezing drizzle.

LI is under a winter weather advisory until 6 p.m. this evening.

The National Weather Service said Long Island is expected to get snow and sleet accumulation of 3 to 5 inches, with Nassau County and portions of the North Shore on the high end. The heaviest snow is forecast to hit between now and noon.

The snow is expected to give way to to a mix of sleet and snow this afternoon, with a chance of freezing rain or freezing drizzle by evening. Highs are expected to be in the lower 30s.

The Long Island Rail Road is expecting to provide normal service today, according to a release from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, but warned customers Saturday to use caution due to slippery conditions and to allow extra time for travel.

The LIRR said "some trains may operate at slower speeds due to slip slide conditions," which is when train wheels slip while accelerating or slide during breaking.

"Our goal is to provide service as long as it is safe for our customers, employees and equipment," Joseph Lhota, MTA chairman, said in a statement Friday.

Customers were advised to monitor and media reports for updates.

LaGuardia airport said flight arrivals and departures were being impacted due to the snow, and urged customers to check with their airlines for exact flight information.

After getting blasted last winter, Long Island hasn't seen much snow so far this season -- not even an inch.

The weather service said 0.2 inches fell Thursday and into Friday morning at its monitoring station at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma. A trace fell there on Jan. 13.

This storm may not be a blizzard, but it's the year's "first snow worthy of shoveling and plowing," said News 12 Long Island meteorologist Bill Korbel.

"Compared to last year, no, not much of a storm," Korbel said. "For this year, for snow lovers, this is what they've been waiting for."

The LIRR also is planning to keep station waiting rooms open round-the-clock, position crews and snow-fighting material at stations for clearing platforms and stairways, activate switch heaters and treat them and third rails with antifreeze agents, the release said.

One person keeping a close eye on weather reports is Todd Kirschner, manager of Trio Hardware in Plainview.

On Friday, a few maintenance people from schools, a hospital and a nursing home have come in to buy gas cans and oil for snowblowers, gloves and a couple of shovels, he said.

"Joe Homeowner isn't fazed -- not yet anyway," he said.

With John Valenti and Gary Dymski

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