New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in Nassau and Suffolk Counties as a Nor’easter began its onslaught on Long Island Friday afternoon, dumping snow and rain across the Island.
Declaring a state of emergency allows the state to better aid local governments hit harder than others. The declaration also includes Bronx, Dutchess, Kings, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland and Westchester.
The governor and other agencies throughout the day warned drivers to get off the roads as soon as possible and to make way for public work crews to clear snow-covered roadways.
Traffic was moving at a snail-like pace on some roadways, including the Northern State Parkway where drivers pulled over to clear snow off their cars. Some cars had veered off the road and into trees while other drivers tried unsuccessfully to get their cars out of heavy packs of snow.
Nassau County police reported Friday night that Route 135 is closed in both directions at exit 14 and that the southbound ramp is also closed from the Long Island Expressway due to snow.
“As this winter storm unfolds, bringing heavy snow and high winds to parts of the state, I strongly urge all New Yorkers to exercise caution, avoid travel, and stay indoors,” Cuomo said. “To ensure an effective and rapid response to this winter storm, I am declaring a state of emergency for counties in the lower Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island so resources can get to communities where they are needed as quickly as possible.”
The storm, which was expected to wallop most of the Northeast, led to nearly 5,000 flight cancellations, including more than 2,300 flights locally.
John F. Kennedy Airport said it would cease operations at 6:30 p.m., the governor’s office said. LaGuardia was to suspend most flight operations at 4 p.m.
The Long Island Rail Road was operating without any delays on most of its branches, reporting minimal disruptions due to storm conditions.
The railroad notified officials that it will suspend service if snow accumulation reaches 10 to 13 inches.
In preparation for the storm, the New York State Department of Transportation prepared hundreds of plow trucks to hit the roads. The state also has more than 470,000 tons of salt on hand to treat roads before and during the storm.
The state also deployed extra New York State Troopers to Long Island to assist local police with their response efforts.
The National Weather Service said the worst is yet to come and that the storm is expected to intensify at 9 p.m. All of Long Island remains under a blizzard warning until 1 p.m. Saturday.
As of 6:30 p.m. the Long Island Power Authority, which ceased storm response operations to National Grid during the storm, reported that more than 5,000 customers were without power.