More than a foot of snow could fall on eastern Long Island from a powerful two-day winter storm due to hit the region Friday, but forecasters were still struggling with their projections.
"There is potential for a storm system to bring heavy snowfall and high winds, particularly to eastern portions of the area Friday night into Saturday night," the weather service said in its Wednesday evening storm advisory.
But it added: "There is still an unusual amount of uncertainty in snow amounts with this storm 2 days out, significant changes are possible, please monitor subsequent forecast updates."
The weather service said there is a "high probability" of at least six inches and up to a foot of snow or more on eastern Long Island with "near blizzard conditions" Friday night into Saturday.
There is a lower chance of up to six inches in the rest of Long Island, with blowing snow still a factor.
With two different storm tracks in play, the weather service was still grappling with its forecast Wednesday night.
The difference between the two was stark: the westernmost track scenario would mean more than 20 inches for all of Long Island, whereas the easternmost scenario could mean as low as just a couple of inches.
Strong winds with gusts of 45 to 55 mph are predicted for eastern Long Island and 30 to 40 mph for western Long Island. Winds will be strongest throughout Saturday.
"A western track scenario would increase the threat for damaging wind across E LI … and expand the strong wind threat into the NYC/NJ metro area. Meanwhile, an eastern track scenario would keep the strong wind threat for LI," the advisory said.
Moderate coastal flooding is possible on both the North and South Shores, forecasters said.
Long Island Rail Road president Phillip Eng said Wednesday that the agency is "monitoring" the storm, and expects to begin preparations on Friday, including by pre-salting stations, and readying personnel and equipment to be deployed as needed once the severe weather arrives.
"We’ll be messaging with the public as the weather reports become more confident," Eng said.
With the frigid temperatures and the coming snow, animal welfare officials on Long Island are reminding pet owners to keep their four-legged friends inside during the cold weather.
Older dogs, those who are ill, young or have short hair are especially at risk because they cannot endure prolonged exposure to winter weather, according to the Suffolk County SPCA.
The agency reminds people it is illegal to tether, leash, secure, tie, pen or confine a dog outside when the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The Suffolk County SPCA has made several arrests this month of pet owners who have left their dogs outside in subfreezing temperatures.
Cold temperatures will mark the week to come.
Thursday will be sunny but will have a high of just 31, and a wind chill of 10 to 20. That night, heat-trapping clouds will result in a milder low of 25.
Sunday will be sunny, with a daytime high of 28.
Monday and Tuesday should be sunny, with daytime highs in the mid-30s.
With Alfonso A. Castillo, Matthew Chayes and Joan Gralla