Long Island Braces For Blizzard Conditions, High Winds Ahead Of Winter Storm

POINT LOOKOUT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Officials on Long Island were warning residents to be prepared as a winter storm was set to sweep the Tri-Stare area Tuesday.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard watch from late Monday night through Tuesday evening for New York City and parts of northern New Jersey and southern Connecticut, while winter storm warnings and watches were issued for the remainder of the area.

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Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said the Office of Emergency Management will be staffed around the clock starting on Monday, and will finalize a plan based evolving snow conditions.

“As always, we prepare for the worst and we hope for the best, but right now they’re predicting blizzard-like conditions with significant snowfall, so right now we’re gearing up for a major snow event,” Mangano said.

There will be rain, sleet and snow along the Long Island coast, prompting officials to warn residents not to venture out, especially during the morning rush.

Mangano said authorities will try to keep the roads open and passable, but the major concern is high winds which could reduce visibility, making it hard for snow plows and drivers to navigate the roads.

“Strong winds blowing this snow will create a visibility problem that is hazardous,” Mangano said. “You don’t want to be on these roadways unless you absolutely, necessarily need to be on them,” Mangano said.

“This appears to be the big one. Plan tomorrow to take the day off,” added Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino. “We expect coastal flooding; very high wind conditions. Cars should be removed from town roadways.”

According to Mangano, NICE bus service will remain in service, but to anticipate possible delays due to weather conditions. LIRR commuters should check their website for service changes.

Roads have been treated with a brine and beet juice solution in the Town of Hempstead. The state has issued emergency members to drivers who are being asked to gas up, secure boats, protect pets, and dash out to the grocery store before the storm.

“We have as many as 1,000 line personnel and 500 tree contractors that will be coming to our service territory to help us in the restoration works,” said Jeff Weir of PSEG Long Island.

McLogan asked Weir whether the heavy snow or the high winds are the toughest to fight.

“I think it’s a little of both,” he said. “I mean, when the winds get up to the extremes that they’re forecasted to, we can’t get our crews up into the bucket trucks.”

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, homeowners along barrier beaches were being warned that they are vulnerable. Meanwhile, town leaders were urging drivers to gas up their vehicles and stay off suburban roads.

Late Monday, parking lots were spilling over with last-minute grocery shoppers. One strip mall was already sold out of ice melt and snowblowers Monday afternoon, and had no plans to restock for spring.

Hal Quinton of Point Lookout just returned from six weeks in Florida — presuming he was safe from any more winter calamity. Now, his snowblower is back in the driveway.

“I’m going to fire up old Bessie here and see if she’s still working,” he said.

Neighbor Nick Mullany is heeding warnings. Homes along the coast and barrier beaches are most vulnerable.

“The tide coming up and kind of flooding out the bottom floors; basements,” he said.

Derek Wolpert of Point Lookout asked others to learn from his experience during the blizzard last year.

“I was in a car accident last year during the storm, so stay inside,” he said.

With expected wind gusts of up to 55 mph, residents in Long Beach are also being asked to protect their property, and to be aware of the potential for two to three-foot swells along the coastline.

“Hopefully, Long Beach will be okay. They have the protective measures for the boardwalk and we’re hoping for the best with that,” Debbie, of Long Beach, told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “We stocked up like we would for any other storm and keeping our fingers crossed that it won’t be that bad.”

Another area prone to flooding is the waterfront in Freeport, home to the area’s vibrant Nautical Mile nightlife and shopping scene. One woman who works in the area told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria the streets were raised several years ago to help prevent flooding.

“They did do a lot of work, and we don’t get flooded the way we used to,” she said.

Shoppers have been grabbing salt and shovels, preparing for the worst.

“We have our salt at home, our shovels are ready and the snow blower’s got gas, so we’re on our way,” said Seaford resident Judy Saboni.

“They say that we’re getting at least 12 to 18 inches and no, I’m not looking forward to that,” said Floral Park resident Sandy Colon.

“Ice melt, yes. Snowblower, sort of. Me not going to work is another story,” said Pat Myren, of Islip. “I’m hoping I need to say stay home and be safe and that’s what I’m praying for.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone warned residents that the storm could bring up to 18 inches of snow to the area, with significant winds and whiteout conditions.

“This is a major storm, this is a potentially dangerous storm,” Bellone said.

Suffolk County Police Chief Tim Sini warned drivers to get home early on Monday, and to avoid driving on the roads in dangerous conditions.

“If we can stay off the roads that’s obviously the best-case scenario,” Sini said. “If we get what we predict, it’s going to be tough out there. If we can stay off the roads tomorrow, that’s best-case scenario.”

Bellone said the county will be partnering with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office and local agencies to provide emergency assistance and resources for residents. The county has 170 pieces of equipment ready to go, along with additional resources from the state and local municipalities.

For those looking to receive storm alerts, head to the Suffolk County website at www.suffolkcountyny.gov.

Bellone also urged those in need of shelter to call their Emergency Services Unit at (631) 854-9100 for assistance.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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