With Storm Intensifying, Residents Urged to Stay Off Roads

(Photo by Michael Damm/Long Island Press)

Officials across Long Island Thursday morning urged residents to stay off the roads as the first major storm of 2017 intensified.

As of mid-morning, police in both Nassau and Suffolk counties recorded nearly 40 accidents plus countless other spinouts and calls to aid motorists.

The most serious incident occurred on the Long Island Expressway. Westbound lanes had to be shut down after a tractor trailer crashed near Exit 33, causing a multi-vehicle accident, officials said.

“Obviously we went from beach day to blizzard day here in the county,” said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges in October. “Certainly road conditions are a concern.”

Whiteout conditions had already caused multiple fender-benders, he said, adding that no one has been seriously hurt.

“If you don’t have to be on the roadway please don’t take to the roadway,” Mangano said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who issued a state of emergency for Suffolk, carried with him the same message as he addressed the public Thursday.

Bellone’s message urging residents to remain off roads was two-fold: avoid putting yourself in danger and keep roads clear for plow operators battling the elements. He noted that whipping winds combined with rapid snowfall makes it difficult for plow crews to clear roads, and that more drivers on the road only adds to an already difficult situation.

“Don’t make it more difficult for them to clear what is a major snow storm,” Bellone said. “We are out in full force on the roadways with every piece of equipment we’ve got.”

Officials in both counties said the storm was intensifying and would only get worse. With temperatures plunging to the teens in the evening, there’s concern that snow-covered roads will freeze.

Long Island is under a blizzard warning until 6 p.m. As much as 18 inches of snow is expected.

(Featured photo credit: Photo by Michael Damm/Long Island Press)