New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that the Long Island Expressway will be closed within the Nassau-Suffolk borders at midnight as a powerful blizzard makes it way to the region.
The driving ban includes the entire stretch of the LIE from the Queens/Nassau border to Riverhead. Officials expect the ban to be lifted at 5 a.m., though Cuomo left open the possibility of extending the road closure.
“This is nothing to be trifled with,” Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters.
Both the Southern State Parkway and Northern State Parkway will remain open throughout the storm.
Cuomo said he could not recall ever shutting down a major roadway this early before for an impending storm.
“It’s prudence,” he said, adding that his decision to close the expressway was not in response to a record blizzard last February that stranded dozens of drivers, mostly in Suffolk County. “Once cars become stranded on the road, not only is it a problem for the occupants in the car…it makes it very hard, if not impossible to plow the roads.”
The governor also issued a statewide state of emergency.
“Long Island looks like right now like it’s going to bare the brunt [of] this storm and we’re preparing accordingly,” he added.
It’s likely that drivers will still be able to access the LIE at certain entrance ramps, but officials noted that drivers could face a B misdemeanor if they choose to circumvent the ban.
The National Weather Service is predicting 8 to 10 inches of snow on LI and for temperatures to plummet overnight.
Blowing and drifting snow could also cause whiteout conditions, the weather service warned.
“Tomorrow,” Cuomo said, “people should seriously consider staying in their homes.”
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 2, 2014
Video update from National Weather Service: