Following a dearth of snow this winter, finally Long Island is set to see some accumulating flakes Tuesday morning that shift to sleet, and then rain later in the afternoon, forecasters say.
About 2 to 3 inches are on tap for most of Long Island, but northern Nassau County and northwestern Suffolk may see 4 inches, depending on the temperatures, said meteorologist Joe Pollina of the National Weather Service in Upton on Monday night.
"If the colder air stays longer, we can see more in the way of snow, maybe closer to that 4-inch range," he said. "If it doesn't stick around, and it gets pushed out faster, we'll see less than the 2 or 3 inches, maybe closer to 1 inch."
The weather will be nothing to sneeze at. Not the light kind of snow but the heavy, wet type will accompany people going to work, followed by a wintry mix, meteorologists said. Then warmer temps move in just before the afternoon commute, leading to all rain, according to the service.
"People do need to take their time … because there will be snow falling," Pollina said, "and on top of that, as warmer air moves into the area, it will change over to a wintry mix. You'll have snow sleet and freezing rain. On any untreated areas, travel and walking will be difficult."
The daytime high Tuesday is expected to be about 35 degrees, after early morning temperatures in the 20s, forecasters said. The nighttime low is also expected to be about 35.
A winter weather advisory is in place Tuesday from 5 a.m. to midnight for Long Island, the service said, and wind gusts of up to 35 mph in the afternoon are also expected.
At times, snowfall rates could be up to 1 inch an hour with visibility of less than half a mile, the weather service said. Power lines and tree branches could fall.
Given the precipitation projections, the Long Island Rail Road is postponing three Tuesday morning “Meet your Manager” events — those for Bay Shore; Hempstead Gardens and Hunterspoint Avenue, Queens, the LIRR said. That’s to allow staff to focus on “snow maintenance and management.”
The LIRR also issued a winter weather advisory asking that with the snow and ice forecast, riders be cautious on station staircases and platforms.
As Long Islanders are well aware, the area has been pretty much snow-free this winter, as climatologists point to the mismatch between two key ingredients — cold enough air and precipitation.
Based on the stretch from Dec. 1 to Sunday, “it’s the least snowy winter to date … with 0.9” inches, edging out that period in 1998, which saw 1 inch, said Samantha Borisoff, climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center, based at Cornell University.
Wednesday look for sun to return with a high near 45 degrees. Thursday — Valentine's Day — and Friday should be similar, with a chance of afternoon rain Friday.
Long Island's no-snow rundown
December, warmer and wetter than normal, delivered just a trace of snow. The normal for the month is 5.4 inches at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma.
As we move into the traditionally coldest and snowiest months of the year, well known for their nor’easters, the slightly warmer than normal January turned in a meager 0.9 inches of snow, well below the average of 6.7 inches.
Now we come to February, which traditionally has taken the crown for snow producer of the year. Even with an early arctic blast, the month as of day-end Sunday saw zero inches of snowfall at the airport. The normal total for the entire month is 7.1 inches.
The only memorable recent snowfall came all the way back on Nov. 15, when several inches fell in some spots — instead of the expected coating to an inch — right around the evening rush.
Given the timing and lack of treated roadways, the ensuing “snow jam will go down as a day that will live in Long Island traffic infamy,” as one Newsday writer put it.