Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a state of emergency Thursday for Long Island just as Winter Storm Grayson brought blizzard conditions, dumping a forecast 12 inches of snow on much of the area.
Although roads, bridges, and the Long Island Rail Road remained open while schools, airports and many businesses closed, officials urged residents to stay home to avoid getting stranded. The storm is expected to bring up to three inches of snow per hour, but 60 mph gusts will make keeping the roads clear difficult, officials said.
“This is not a normal snow storm, this is two weather patterns that have collided,” Cuomo said. “Today is not the day to go out if you really, really do not have to.”
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued blizzard warnings for Nassau and Suffolk counties through early Friday morning. Eastern LI could see as much as 18 inches of snow, with lesser amounts at points west, the agency said. As of 11 a.m., Old Brookville had the highest amount in Nassau with 7 inches and Long Island MacArthur Airport had the highest amount so far in Suffolk with 13 inches.
PSEG Long Island had more than 4,000 customers without power as of Thursday afternoon. The heavy snow is expected to down tree limbs, knocking out utility wires.
“This is a difficult, challenging, dangerous storm,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who urged residents to check on loved ones and neighbors that live alone. “This is a time when we have to come together as a community.”
After the storm passes, freezing temperatures will make clearing the snow difficult since the snow will turn to ice, officials said.
“Residents should stay informed on storm conditions and stay indoors,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “The bitter cold temperatures coupled with blowing and drifting snow will pose health and safety concerns.”
Cuomo noted that drivers getting stuck in snow not only find themselves in a life-or-death situation, they also make it impossible for plows to clear roads clogged with stranded vehicles.
“There’s a very quick spiral into chaos, and that’s what were concerned about,” he said.