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Winter storm warning for LI, up to 14 inches in much of Suffolk

A man digs out his car in Nesconset

A man digs out his car in Nesconset on Friday morning. (Jan. 3, 2014) Credit: Ed Betz

Strong freezing winds and up to 14 inches of snow are predicted to slam Long Island Tuesday with Polar Vortex: The Sequel following close behind, forecasters said.

But, as dire as predictions of another arctic blast may be, forecasters with the National Weather Service stopped short Monday of calling what's coming a blizzard -- just the next worst thing.

Prepare for "near blizzard-like conditions" said John Murray, a meteorologist with the weather service's Upton office.

Frigid wind will make Tuesday's high of 25 on much of Long Island feel more like 7 degrees and Tuesday night's predicted single-digit temperatures more like 6 below, forecasters said.

A winter storm warning is in effect from noon Tuesday until 6 a.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

Heavy snow is expected to make for hazardous travel, particularly during Tuesday night's commute, forecasters said. State transportation officials said there are no plans to shut down the Long Island Expressway or any parkways. When the last snowstorm hit Jan. 2, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered the LIE closed for eight hours overnight.

The warning predicts 10 to 14 inches of snow for much of Suffolk and 6 to 10 inches for Nassau, westernmost Suffolk and a good stretch of the North Shore.

Winds ranging from 20 mph to 30 mph, with brief gusts up to 35 mph, are expected, the weather service said. Visibility is expected to be a half-mile at times, with blowing and drifting snow.

Look for light snow to start by late morning Tuesday, with the heaviest snowfall beginning between 3 and 5 p.m. and lasting until after midnight, said David Stark, another weather service meteorologist in Upton.

Heavier accumulation should occur during this Tuesday evening's rush hour, he said, and with temperatures in the lower 20s most of the day, some roads may be slick even earlier.

Snow is expected to wind down by sunrise Wednesday, he said, give or take a few hours.

Also making an entrance is the first of several days with temperatures in the 20s or below, caused by another polar vortex formed above Siberia, officials said.

Crews were out Monday afternoon treating state roads with saltwater brine that "prevents icing and hard-packed snow," said Eileen Peters, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation. By Tuesday afternoon there could be up to 500 workers out to address road conditions, including 70 DOT snow and ice workers from upstate and private contractors who'll be on alert, she said. The area's 210 snow-removal vehicles are to be supplemented with 30 plows from upstate, she said.

She advised those who have to drive Tuesday to stay at least 200 feet behind snowplows.

With Gary Dymski

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