Just as Gov. Andrew Cuomo was updating residents on the state’s plan to battle the first winter storm of the season, forecasters upgraded their projected snowfall total for parts of Long Island to up to 18 inches.
That update comes after meteorologists at the National Weather Service’s Upton office for the last day have predicted up to a foot of snow for the region. However, the agency throughout the week has warned that the storm’s track was uncertain meaning forecasts could change, either for the better or worse.
— NWS New York NY (@NWSNewYorkNY) January 22, 2016
Officials have said that their major concern with this Nor’easter is the potential for flooding in coastal areas. Parts of the Island are also under a coastal flooding warning.
“Flooding can do tremendous tremendous damage, as we’ve learned the hard way,” Cuomo said.
Also causing angst among officials is near-zero visibility on roadways due to expected blowing snow and whipping winds.
The duel effect of potentially serious flooding in low-lying areas and heavy snow throughout means municipalities will have to deploy resources to battle the storm on many fronts.
Cuomo’s message to residents was to stay at home because stalled or abandoned vehicles put first responders in harm’s way.
The massive Nor’easter is threatening much of the mid-Atlantic with upwards of two feet of snow. More than 4,500 flights have been cancelled due to inclement weather. Area airports have also begun cancelling flights, including LaGuardia Airport (700) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (350). Pat Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said he expects all airlines to waive rebooking fees.
All flights out of Long Island MacArthur Airport will be cancelled by 7:35 p.m. Friday and will resume again Sunday afternoon, but departure times vary depending on airline.
— LI MacArthur Airport (@LIMacArthur) January 22, 2016
While officials are warning residents about traveling by car, the Long Island Rail Road has not made plans to halt operations but could modify or suspend service depending on snow accumulation and if sustained winds become greater than 39 mph.
Cuomo said agencies have beefed up their ranks as they brace for the storm, including PSEG Long Island, which has nearly 1,000 personnel on standby.
Hundreds of pieces of snow-fighting equipment is headed down to help battle the storm, including more than 1,000 operators and supervisors, dozens of plows, and a half-dozen vacuum trucks outfitted with sewer jets destined for LI to help relieve flooding.
“You hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” Cuomo said. “But we are preparing for a significant occurrence.”
Officials in Nassau County echoed Cuomo’s plea to heed warnings.
“We are asking our motorists, should the storm stay on track, please do not take to the roads.”
Mangano urged residents to use its non-emergency hotline in non-life-threatening circumstances. The number is 1-800-315-5153. The hotline will be activated 8 p.m. Friday.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone encouraged residents to shelter in place, saying “this is a real storm that does pose risks.”
Despite the bleak outlook he chose to look on the bright side.
“It is fortunate that this storm is hitting at this time, on a weekend” when people will be at home and not traveling to work, Bellone said.
Suffolk’s non-emergency hotline is 631-852-4900.
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