LIRR Facing System-Wide Delays as Storm Continues

This 53-foot-long, 80-ton steel snow removal vehicle dubbed 'Darth Vader' is part of Long Island Rail Road's winter weather arsenal. (Photo: MTA / LIRR)
This 53-foot-long, 80-ton steel snow removal vehicle dubbed ‘Darth Vader’ is part of Long Island Rail Road’s winter weather arsenal. (Photo: MTA / LIRR)

The winter storm blanketing Long Island caused system-wide delays on the Long Island Rail Road Tuesday evening, and could force officials to suspend service if snowfall reaches the threshold set by the railroad.

“The threshold for suspension is 10 to 13 inches,” LIRR spokesman Sal Arena said.

That’s when railroad officials begin to make the determination whether to modify or suspend service so snow-fight equipment could get to work on the rails.

The LIRR released a statement on its website saying it will reduce service on a “branch-by-branch basis after 8 p.m., consistent with its policy to curtail or suspend service if snow accumulations reach 10 to 13 inches.”

The railroad “is not shutting down the system” at 8 p.m., Arena said. Instead, it will start analyzing the situation on the tracks in order to determine if suspension is necessary.

If significant schedule alterations need to be made, the LIRR will announce service changes on a branch-by-branch basis, Arena said.

He did not discount the possibility of altering Wednesday’s scheduled to a limited weekend schedule like it did on Friday, Jan. 3, when a blizzard pounded LI.

“I don’t know if that’s the route they’re going to take,” Arena said.

Officials would make an announcement before the rush hour commute, Arena said.

Icing and sustained winds of more than 39 mph could also cause a suspension, according to the LIRR’s winter weather guide. The National Weather Service is predicting sustained winds of only up to 25 mph.

As for snowfall amounts, the weather service reported an unofficial recording of 10.2 inches in Lindenhurst—the only community that has pierced the 10-inch mark by 8:30 p.m.

Heavy snowfall is expected until 4 a.m., the weather service said.

Joey Picca, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said: “We’re well on our way to getting over 10 inches.”