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No blizzard for Long Island, just another miserable winter storm

A pedestrian crosses a snow-covered Jericho Turnpike in

A pedestrian crosses a snow-covered Jericho Turnpike in Mineola on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. Credit: Howard Schnapp

This story was reported by Robert Brodsky, Khristopher J. Brooks, Alfonso A. Castillo, Jesse Coburn, Scott Eidler, Laura Figueroa, Mark Harrington, Lisa Irizarry, Patricia Kitchen and William Murphy. It was written by Bart Jones.


That was no blizzard, just another miserable storm.

Forecasters had predicted a late-winter onslaught that would bury the Island in snow and pack winds powerful enough to create zero-visibility road conditions and topple power lines.

Instead, most of the anticipated snow turned into sleet and then rain.

The high winds materialized, but power outages were relatively modest. Roads, while eerily empty, remained open.

“We basically dodged the blizzard bullet,” Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said Tuesday morning.

The path of the massive nor’easter veered northwest overnight, ushering in milder air that kept snow accumulations down significantly, meteorologists said.

While other parts of the Northeast were plastered with sleet and heavy snow, paralyzing much of the Washington-to-Boston corridor, millions of people in Nassau, Suffolk and New York City were spared the worst.

Schools, government offices, courts and many businesses had shut in the face of a possible blizzard, but in the end most of Long Island received only 3 to 5 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

By daybreak Tuesday, the blizzard warning for Long Island was canceled. A wind advisory calling for gusts of as much as 50 mph ended at 6 p.m.

The threat of snow showers and icy roads, however, lingered late Tuesday, with crews working to clear roads filled with sleet and slush before temperatures dipped below freezing.

Fresh warnings were issued for the Wednesday morning commute: Watch out for ice and drive carefully. High temperatures were likely to only reach the low 30s, the Weather Service said.

The storm, while muted, still had its consequences.

Kennedy, LaGuardia and MacArthur airports canceled most flights, some Long Island Rail Road trains were delayed, and the risk of flooding, particularly along the vulnerable South Shore, had officials concerned into the evening.

In Shirley, the storm caused a partial roof collapse at a convenience store, fire officials said. No injuries were reported at the 7-Eleven off the William Floyd Parkway but the store had to close.

Officials called for residents to stay off the roads Tuesday — and apparently most heeded their warnings.

Despite the potential for fender benders or more serious crashes due to the hazardous road conditions, “the call volume is below average,” Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said Tuesday morning.

Among the few shops open Tuesday on the North Shore in Nassau County were convenience marts and grocery stores, though they were often empty save for a few employees.

Leone Gawan, manager of an Exxon station at Route 110 and Conklin Street in East Farmingdale, reported having only four customers by 11 a.m., instead of the usual 50.

“Even our deliveries didn’t come today,” he said, pointing to the mostly empty doughnut shelves behind him.

Shovels and bags of road salt all but sold out Monday afternoon he said, although he kept one of each in case he had to dig himself out. That prospect seemed less and less likely Tuesday morning.

“Look! It’s not even accumulating,” he said, gesturing at scattered slush puddles near the pumps.

Officials said all Suffolk Transit fixed route and SCAT bus service was canceled Tuesday, with normal service expected to resume Wednesday. Nassau Inter-County Express, or NICE bus, said all bus routes ran with a few exceptions.

The LIRR reported scattered systemwide delays averaging about five to 10 minutes.

At Kennedy Airport, hundreds of travelers were stranded Tuesday. By noon, 778 flights were canceled.

PSEG Long Island said Tuesday it was sending back home 736 workers who were en route to Long Island to help restore outages.

By 6:40 p.m., more than 23,700 customers had experienced an outage as a result of the storm, the utility said. All but 21,908 had been restored to service by that time, according to spokesman Jeff Weir.

Not all Long Islanders hunkered down during the storm.

In Mineola, residents Amil and Rehana Rasul decided to shovel and snow-blow their sidewalk in the morning while the flakes were still falling.

“We’re just trying to stay ahead of it now before it gets even worse,” said Rehana Rasul, a shovel full of snow in her hand. “Hopefully by tomorrow this will all be a memory.”


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