New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday found himself in a familiar position: cataloguing the state’s efforts battling yet another major storm while lamenting that Long Island was “once again” enduring the worst.
“It seems like Mother Nature packs an especially potent punch for Nassau and Suffolk,” Cuomo said at a press conference Thursday at noon.
Of all the regions in the state, Long Island was taking the brunt of the storm, which is expected to last until 6 p.m.—well into the evening rush hour.
“Don’t underestimate the potential danger,” Cuomo said. “Visibility is going to be very low. The snow is at a problematic level.”
Cuomo encouraged residents to heed warnings from local officials that people stay off the roads because of dangerous conditions and to avoid interfering with plow operators.
Despite his calls for diligence, Cuomo said the state is not currently considering closing any roads, but he didn’t rule it out entirely. For Long Island, that could mean that the Long Island Expressway, which was temporary closed on the westbound side due to a tractor-trailer crash, could potentially be shut down.
“One car gets stuck, that backs up 15 cars,” Cuomo said, which could impede the progress of tow trucks and plows.
He said a decision whether to suspend travel on the LIE or not could come later, but at a 2 p.m. news conference in Dix Hills he still kept Route 495 open.
“You don’t want to overreact, you don’t want to underreact,” Cuomo said. “I tend to err on the side of caution.”
The state in the past has ordered drivers off the LIE under the threat of possible traffic violations.
“Come rush hour, the traffic increases, the snow increases, the visibility decreases,” Cuomo said. “This is a potentially dangerous situation.”
He urged those who went to work despite the storm to leave early to allow more time for plow operators to clear the snow.
Long Island is under a blizzard warning until 6 p.m. Suffolk County has declared a state of emergency, as has some town governments. The region is expected to get smacked with upwards of 18 inches of snow. The storm intensified around mid-morning and snow was falling at a rate of more than 2 inches an hour at one point, according to the National Weather Service’s Upton office.
To avoid road congestion, Cuomo urged business owners to release workers early, if possible. Additionally, the Long Island Rail Road is deploying several “getaway” trains to lessen ridership later in the day. The LIRR, which had “very low ridership” Thursday morning, is currently experiencing system-wide delays of up to 30 minutes, officials said.
The governor does not anticipate area airports to come to a halt but there have already been mass cancellations and delays. John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports combined had more than 1,300 canceled flights. The governor urged anyone planning to fly today to call their airline before going to the airport.