The third nor’easter to wallop Long Island in the past two weeks dropped nearly a foot of snow on parts of the East End, and about half as much in Nassau, knocking out power to thousands of customers and disrupting travel.
Long Islanders awoke Tuesday to a mid-March wintry blast which dropped bands of heavy snow during the morning rush, reducing visibility and creating dangerous driving conditions.
Bus service in Suffolk was canceled, Long Island Rail Road commuters faced early morning delays and hundreds of flights from New York airports were canceled.
Elected officials expressed exasperation as they mustered resources to battle a third nor’easter in March alone.
“It’s starting to feel like Groundhog Day here,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said at a morning briefing in Hicksville garage.
But the fast-moving storm moved out of Nassau by early afternoon and was mostly gone from Suffolk before the evening commute. The National Weather Service warned of icing overnight into early Wednesday, as temperatures are set to head down to the 20s, leaving the possibility of another hazardous morning commute.
While nearly a foot of snow pelted the East End and lesser amounts to the west, in reality the snowfall totals were all over the map. By 2 p.m., Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma had recorded 6.4 inches of heavy snow, the weather service said.
The variation in amounts reflected the presence of a band of moderate to heavy snow that slowly progressed over parts of Nassau and western Suffolk, said Joe Pollina, a weather service meteorologist.
The storm caused dozens of accidents across Long Island, including one involving a Nassau police officer struck on the Long Island Expressway who suffered minor injuries, officials said.
In Suffolk, acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron said a person was struck by a snow plow in the Third Precinct, but the injuries were minor. In addition, a Suffolk police officer suffered numerous broken bones when his cruiser collided head-on with a stolen vehicle in West Babylon, Cameron said.
The heavy bands of snow left many in the dark, especially in eastern Suffolk. During the course of the storm, more than 17,000 customers lost power, PSEG Long Island reported Tuesday. A total of 1,276 customers were without power as of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. PSEG said the majority of those customers would have service restored by midnight.
A large number of the outages were on Dune Road in Quogue and Westhampton, where strong winds and wet, heavy snow brought down wires and at least one utility pole.
PSEG spokeswoman Brooke Houston said the utility brought in 112 linemen from Quebec to supplement its own force of workers and contractors.
The snow created headaches for LIRR commuters, with westbound delays on three lines during the morning commute, because of weather-related signal trouble. Amtrak temporarily suspended service between Boston and New York City because of the storm.
Hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed at LaGuardia, Kennedy and MacArthur airports. And nearly 450 public and private schools, primarily in Suffolk, canceled classes, after-school activities or had delayed openings Tuesday.
Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter told News 12 Long Island the timing of the storm “made it more difficult for the schools to make that decision to close. I don’t envy them.”
Across the Island, residents did their best to take the storm in stride but many pined for the start of spring.
On Main Street in Hempstead, Keturah Harris, 18, did her best to shield her face from the blowing snow but was having little luck after three storms in two weeks.
“I hate the snow,” she said.
People in a long line to enter the Hempstead courthouse looked miserable as they shuffled along toward the metal detectors inside.
Across the street, the doughnut shop became a kind of refuge. Mike Diamond, 53, an attorney from Suffolk County, warmed up over a cup of coffee.
“I thought we were over it, but I’m not surprised with the weather these days,” he said.
Frank Frigenti, 58, of Bellmore, was taking his nephew to traffic court.
“I hope it’s our last one,” he said of the storm. “I think it will be.”
Then he bundled up and went outside to wait in the line for the courthouse.
With Craig Schneider, Mark Harrington, Scott Eidler and Rachel Uda
- Plainview: 11 inches
- Centereach: 10 inches
- Orient: 10 inches
- South Huntington: 9.6 inches
- Long Island MacArthur Airport, Ronkonkoma: 6.4 inches
- Garden City: 5 inches
- Wantagh: 2.7 inches
Source: National Weather Service