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Forecast: Winter storm watch for much of Long Island this weekend

Town of Oyster Bay employees prepare Thursday for

Town of Oyster Bay employees prepare Thursday for this weekend's anticipated snow storms. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

A powerful winter storm is poised to hit Long Island this weekend with the National Weather Service issuing a winter storm watch for Nassau County and northwestern Suffolk County. The weather service said "heavy mixed precipitation" is possible, with 3 to 6 inches of snow and some ice accumulation. The watch is in effect Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon.

At any point during the storm, travel could be difficult, the weather service said. Minor to moderate coastal flooding is possible for high tide time Sunday morning, and gusty winds could topple tree limbs and power lines, particularly Sunday afternoon and night.

In addition, with temperatures starting to plunge Sunday afternoon, any wet slushy surfaces could quickly freeze then and overnight, creating “a sheet of ice out of any untreated surfaces,” the weather service said.

As of Thursday evening, it looked like Long Island would see some light snow starting Saturday evening, mixing with sleet and rain  at night, with all rain starting early morning Sunday, the weather service said.

That icy mix could last longer for Nassau County and areas of northern Suffolk, with the switch to all rain occurring sooner for the East End and South Shore, said Pete Wichrowski, weather service meteorologist.

All areas could see a brief final hit of snow Sunday afternoon, as that frigid air starts rushing into the area.

Still, upcoming forecasts bear watching, he said, particularly with an eye to the changeover timing from frozen to liquid precipitation. Just a couple of hours can mean “all the difference in the world,” he said.

In addition, if the storm track shifts further south and east, Long Island could see higher levels of ice accumulation, the weather service said.

In the meantime, Long Islanders are likely to wake up Friday to some light snow that will have been falling overnight, and that was expected to continue through the morning commute, the weather service said.

The forecast is for around 1 to 2 inches of accumulation, and roads Friday morning could be slippery. Drivers are advised to use caution.

"The forecasts continue to show New York is set to receive a significant snowfall over the next several days, and it is imperative that New Yorkers stay informed and take every precaution before these storms hit," said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in a news release Thursday.

"We are monitoring these storms closely and are ready to deploy significant state resources and personnel so that we can quickly respond to any community that needs help."

Areas to the north and west of Long Island are expected to see more significant levels of snow and ice from the weekend storm.

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