This story was reported by Robert Brodsky, Alfonso A. Castillo, Matthew Chayes, Brianne Ledda, Lorena Mongelli, Maureen Mullarkey and Joseph Ostapiuk. It was written by Chayes and Brodsky.
Long Island's biggest snowstorm in two years dropped nearly 9 inches in some North Shore communities, creating havoc on local roadways, and leaving thousands temporarily without power.
But the system delighted scores of youngsters who received a long-awaited day off from school and a golden opportunity to go sledding and make angels in the heavy, wet snow.
The storm, projected over the weekend to leave the region with a mere dusting of powder, packed a serious punch after shifting its path Monday.
The North Shore of both counties saw the biggest totals, including 8.7 inches in Locust Valley and 8 inches in Commack, according to the National Weather Service in Upton.
WHAT TO KNOW
- A winter storm dropped almost 9 inches of snow on parts of the North Shore of Long Island Tuesday
- The snow that fell was the most Long Island had seen for two years
- Snow showers are also a possibility Saturday, forecasters said
“I started a snowblower I haven’t started in two years,” said Dimas Gutierrez, 69, of East Meadow, while taking a break from cleaning his white Jeep Cherokee. “I just used the stuff that’s been stored for over a year.”
Lesser amounts of snow, typically between 3 and 5 inches, were seen in South Shore communities, including those close to the shoreline.
“If you’re farther north [on Long island], typically you get heavier snow; if you’re farther south, it’s typically rain or a mix,” said Newsday TV meteorologist Rich Von Ohlen, who noted that the warm temperatures before and after the storm will help melt it down.
The storm came at an inopportune moment as voters, predominantly on the North Shore, headed to the polls Tuesday in a special election to complete the term of former Rep. George Santos.
But the storm, which began to take shape overnight, was largely over by mid-to late afternoon, giving voters an opportunity to cast ballots later.
Nearly every Long Island school district called for a snow day — Hempstead, Roosevelt and Westbury offered remote instruction, as did New York City — giving 7-year-old Lucky Levine of Woodbury time to hit a sledding hill before the big kids got there.
“I was really excited about the snow,” Lucky said before jumping back in his sled.
Others across the region were not quite as jubilant, including the thousands who lost power in the storm.
While PSEG Long Island said it's restored power to more than 8,300 customers, nearly 400 — roughly evenly split between Nassau and Suffolk, were still without power as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the utility's outage map.
“Crews will continue to assess the damage and restore outages, safely and as quickly as possible,” said PSEG Long Island spokeswoman Elizabeth Flagler.
From the roads to the rails to the skies above the region, the slushy wet snow made travel a challenge for many Long Islanders Tuesday.
Ron Klempner, of Lake Success, said roads were “not terrible, but not great” throughout the morning. “You just got to take it slow,” he said.
Crashes were reported on most of the region's major roadways, including the Long Island Expressway, the Northern State Parkway and Southern State Parkway but officials said with schools and some offices shuttered for the day, many motorists largely stayed home.
“People heeded the warnings of staying home which is great,” said Stephen Canzoneri, spokesman for the State Department of Transportation.
The Long Island Rail Road managed scattered delays throughout the day, but was operating on or close to schedule on all its branches by the evening rush.
“Crews will be working through the night to ensure a normal rush hour tomorrow,” the MTA said in a statement.
The storm wasn't stopping Elsie Prussen, of Coram, as she boarded a westbound train Tuesday morning from Port Jefferson Station.
“Gotta pay the bills,” said Prussen, who works in Hicksville.
The storm halted service temporarily on both the Cross Sound Ferry at Orient Point and the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry, while forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights in and out of LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International and MacArthur airports.
But the day was not without its positive news.
George Gorman, Long Island regional director of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said there were no reported erosion issues at any state parks or beaches.
Tom Ruskin, president of the Seaview Association on Fire Island, said low snow totals a lack of wind prevented any serious erosion at the already battered shoreline community.
Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said high tide flooded some streets in Amity Harbor, Lindenhurst and Babylon's Fred Shores but “it’s not as extensive as we first thought it would be.”
While temperatures rose into the low 40s Tuesday afternoon — helping some of the snow to melt — it also set the stage for slippery roads overnight when standing water was expected to ice over, particularly on untreated surfaces, as temperatures fell to the high 20s.
A dose of needed sunshine and higher temperatures is expected Wednesday morning, helping to improve roadway conditions, forecasters said.
But don't put those shovels and salt away just yet.
A “smaller snow event,” Von Ohlen said, albeit one expected to drop less than an inch in some locations, is possible for Saturday.