Officials on Long Island expressed relief Tuesday that a powerful nor’easter shifted, sparing nearly 3 million people of blizzard conditions, but they remained cautious about the threat posed by a wintry mix and powerful wind gusts.
“We basically dodged a blizzard bullet, but it’s still hazardous conditions out there,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said at a press conference Tuesday.
With high amounts of accumulation no longer posing a significant threat to the Island, officials warned of a false sense of security. The roads are treacherous due to a combination of ice, sleet, and freezing rain, and a possible conversion to snow later could make matters worse, officials said.
Mangano said police counted 30 car accidents, including an overturned vehicle, several fender benders, and spin outs. The county was also receiving reports of downed trees.
The storm has proved challenging because it was impacting northern and southern Nassau differently, said Mangano, who last year pleaded not guilty to bribery charges.
There’s always concern, he said, “until the storm stops.”
In Suffolk, county officials also welcomed the downgraded forecast but urged residents to remain off the roads so crews could continue to tackle the storm.
“This is different than the trend we’ve seen in most of the storms we’ve had this season, where the eastern end of Long Island…has gotten hit harder,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. “So we’ve gotten a little bit of a break here. But I want to caution people who look out the window and see that the roads are passable, that there isn’t significant accumulation on the roads. Those roads are still slick and icy.”
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said 911 call volume was down, a product, he suggested, of people heeding warnings to remain indoors.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the storm was less disruptive for Long Island and New York City, noting, however, that the nor’easter’s westward track did not bode well for upstate communities.
“Mother Nature can be an unpredictable lady, and she was once again today,” Cuomo said during a press conference in Dix Hills.
He cautioned residents not to be deceived by the lack of snow.
“That does not mean it is safe to go out,” he said. “The roads are very, very nasty and the roads are very dangerous.”
The concern now is that the wintry mix could freeze, creating sheets of black ice on roadways, Mangano said.
“It is hazardous out there on the roadway,” he said. “Sometimes the snow is better than this wintry mix.”
(Photo credit: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)