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National Weather Service: Looks like storm was indeed a blizzard

Nick Augusta uses a snow thrower to clear

Nick Augusta uses a snow thrower to clear his driveway in Hauppauge, Feb. 9, 2017. Credit: Ed Betz

Was it or wasn’t it?

It’s a yes! The storm that dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of Long Island Thursday can be called a blizzard, the National Weather Service’s Upton office said Friday. That’s with the caveat that the call is preliminary and subject to further verification.

From after sunrise to late afternoon Thursday, “a blizzard occurred over portions of Long Island,” as well as some neighboring areas, the service said.

To merit that designation, a storm has to meet these conditions: sustained winds or gusts of 35 mph or higher; considerable snow, falling and or blowing; reduced visibilities to less than a quarter mile — with all that occurring for three hours or more.

What’s more, those criteria were met for seven hours and 23 minutes at Long Island MacArthur Airport — from 8:22 a.m. to 2:18 p.m., and again from 2:56 p.m. to 4:23 p.m., the service said. The weather service said 14.3 inches of snow were recorded at the airport.

The call, provisionary for now, that followed a review of observations came as no surprise, said Faye Barthold, weather service meteorologist in Upton. Model information and analysis had been pointing to blizzard conditions, which is why a warning had been issued for Long Island, she said.

The review was of data from sensors that pick up the likes of wind, visibility and precipitation conditions at area airports.

Farmingdale and Westhampton Beach also got into the game, the weather service said.

Criteria were met for six hours and 38 minutes at Republic Airport in Farmingdale. That would be from 7:33 a.m. to 2:11 p.m. Though the airport’s weather sensor failed at 9:15 a.m., the service said, snowfall was verified by radar.

Blizzard criteria were met for five hours and 29 minutes — from 9:53 a.m. to 2:44 p.m. — at Francis S. Gabreski Airport, Westhampton Beach. Again, snow was verified by radar as the sensor was not operating at that time, the service said.

Though East Hampton may well belong in Long Island’s blizzard bunch, various sensors, including those for visibility and wind, were also on the fritz, meaning further sources would be needed to verify the call.

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