Nassau County is bracing for the region’s first major winter storm to pound the area Friday and is organizing its fleet of plows and payload trucks in preparation, as the municipality still weathers infrastructure damages leftover from Superstorm Sandy.
“We are at the ready to keep our roads clear,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said at a press conference in Hicksville Thursday. “We are preparing for a significant storm.”
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard watch for Suffolk County beginning Friday afternoon and lasting until Saturday afternoon. Nassau County remains under a winter storm watch.
Meteorologists are predicting that Suffolk will take the brunt of the storm with wind gusts topping 60 mph and heavy snow, with accumulation possible of eight to 12 inches. The weather service is calling for six to 10 inches of snow in Nassau.
The weather service warned that the storm has the potential of bringing down tree limbs and causing scattered power outages, and can create whiteout conditions causing limited visibility on roadways.
Nassau is set to deploy more than 175 personnel to clear roadways, 85 plows and 16 payload trucks, the county said.
Mangano warned of a messy commute Friday morning as a mix of snow and rain hits the area overnight. The National Weather Service predicted snow accumulation of less than one inch Friday morning but noted there’s a possibility of heavy rain before 9 a.m. with wind gusts as high as 28 mph.
Snow is expected to begin again 9 p.m. Friday and continuing through the night.
The potential blizzard has also revived the discussion about Long Island Power Authority’s response to Superstorm Sandy and the tongue lashing the utility received from ratepayers and officials, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
When Mangano was asked Thursday if he’s concerned about LIPA’s storm response he said, “Absolutely.”
“The concern is obviously there,” he added, “certainly the assets have not been hardened since Hurricane Sandy,” noting the strong winds last week that knocked out power to more than 30,000 LIPA customers throughout the island.
LIPA did not return calls for comment about storm preparation.
The county executive also shed light on infrastructure vulnerabilities and economic woes that face municipalities affected by Sandy because many local governments are still waiting on federal funding before repairs can be green-lighted.
“We went through a terrible, terrible hurricane,” Mangano said. “There’s obviously significant work that needs to be done to harden our infrastructure, and quite frankly the dollars that are necessary to do that have not begun to flow so you can really get to work on these items and we’re trying to peddle fast and advocate hard.”
As for the storm, the National Weather Service said heavy snow would make for dangerous driving conditions, noting that visibility may be limited to half a mile.
A message left for a Suffolk County spokeswoman was not returned.