FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A powerful snowstorm is keeping Long Island officials on their toes and residents indoors.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for all of Long Island until 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a State of Emergency for Suffolk, Nassau, Richmond, Kings, Queens, New York, Bronx, Westchester and Rockland counties.
“This winter storm will bring a one-two punch of snow and extreme cold. I urge all those in the affected regions to exercise caution, and avoid travel if possible,” Governor Cuomo said. “State resources are deployed to clear snow and help those impacted by the storm, but above all it is important that New Yorkers remain safe both during and after the storm.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said before the storm that the county was ready to tackle the blizzard-like conditions.
More than 300 plow trucks are out on the roads in Suffolk County and road crews also have more than 16,000 tons of salt and sand to spread on the streets to keep them passable.
Bellone said the county will likely be overbudget for snow removal after this storm.
“The bottom line is we have to remove the snow, we have to take care of it. Budget is put aside when it comes to public safety,” said Bellone.
Once the storm hit, snow-covered roads caused long backups as many Long Islanders left work early in an attempt to avoid driving in hazardous conditions, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
The Long Island Expressway was slow-moving from about noon Tuesday well through the end of rush hour due to near whiteout conditions, Gusoff reported.
One motorist said he had to pull off to the side of the road after his windshield wipers froze over, hindering his view of the road.
Accidents and spinouts were also frequent.
“As you can see, I just rear-ended a lady by accident. I even hit the emergency brake,” said Mike Humpf of West Babylon. “Brutal.”
State officials decided to keep the roads open, unlike the New Year’s storm when a travel ban was issued for the Long Island Expressway.
But drivers said they paid the price.
“Horrendous,” a woman said. “That’s the best way to describe it – horrendous.”
The New York State Department of Transportation also called in crews Monday to pre-treat the state roads on Long Island with brine – a saltwater mixture that creates a barrier between the road surface and snow. They also called in extra snow and ice crews and extra plows from upstate to help tackle Long Island roads.
The Town of Hempstead was one of the first on Long Island to declare a snow emergency Tuesday.
“That urges our residents to remove the cars from their streets, to do as little traveling as they can,” Town Supervisor Kate Murray told Rivera. “It’s only going to get worse through the evening, so we’ll continue to do our salting and then snow plowing operations right through the night but the bottom line is we’re asking everybody to stay off the roads to the extent possible.”
LIRR station waiting rooms will remain open around-the-clock through Friday afternoon to accommodate customers waiting for trains during cold and inclement weather.