Much Of The Tri-State Area Is Seeing Dangerous Travel Conditions As Winter Storm Hits

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A strong winter storm made its way through the Tri-State area Saturday, with the highest snow totals registering east of New York City.

As CBS2’s John Marshall reported, winter storm warnings were in effect for Long Island and parts of coastal New Jersey on Saturday morning. By noon, the National Weather Service expanded the warnings to include Brooklyn and Queens. The remaining boroughs and parts of central New Jersey were under a winter weather advisory.

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According to CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock, the storm is expected to taper off by midnight Saturday, but not before leaving behind a slippery mess.

Sunday will feature frigid cold temperatures before things warm up again later in the week.

The National Weather Service said up to 12 inches of snow could fall on parts of eastern Long Island. The winter storm warning there will last until 1 a.m. Sunday for both Nassau and Suffolk counties.

CBS2’s weather watchers recorded 9.5 inches in Patchogue and just over 8 inches in West Babylon.

Predictions called for Nassau County to see about 4-to-6 inches. Snow totals could reach 8-to-12 inches farther east. Wind gusts could reach 25 to 30 mph.

“It’s very, very bad. We come from Jamaica, Queens, the road is not that clean and they didn’t put enough salt. Traffic was very bad,” Aslam Hossain told CBS2’s Raegan Medgie as he cleared off his car after grabbing some groceries.

“It’s snowing outside, so you need some snacks to keep you nice and warm and toasty while you’re inside,” Nijia Howell, of the Bronx, said outside the grocery store in Nassau County.

“We just want to be in the house, pig out, be with family, and be snowed in with the family and have a good time,” a Brooklyn resident agreed.

The center of Patchogue in Suffolk County was picturesque yet problematic, CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reported.

“I can’t believe how much snow it is. The roads are crazy,” one woman said.

“Oh my god, it’s terrible out here,” another said, clearing off her car.

Some businesses closed their doors as the accumulation kept many customers away.

“A little slow today. Go figure,” a man at Gino’s pizza said.

The more that people took the trouble to shovel, salt and bush, the more the snow seemed to keep coming down. Megan Camasi said she had been shoveling for “about three hours.”

Suffolk County officials said they had 175 pieces of snow equipment at the ready, another 175 on standby and 18 Humvee rescue vehicles, should they be necessary, along with extra police and firefighters on duty.

Though the storm wasn’t the worst they’ve seen, they said that can quickly change.

“An eight-inch storm — the weather shifts, the wind shifts — can easily turn into a 12 to 15 inch storm,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

Snowplows and salt trucks geared up early and got out on the roads, which officials warned could get slicker as the snow increases and the temperature drops.

PHOTOS: Snow Blankets Tri-State Area Saturday

But as is always the case with storms like these, there were those who took the bad and found the good, like a group of guys having an impromptu snowball fight in T-shirts.

“Kill some time. The snow’s fun!” Dalton Stroehleim, of Patchogue, said.

Suffolk County officials urged people to stay off the roads Saturday night, saying if you don’t need to go out, please stay home and watch a movie. 

The snow didn’t stop many drivers from coming into the city. 1010 WIN’s Samantha Liebman spoke with people on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

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“It wasn’t that bad, but we’re a little bit worried about going home after having a delicious dinner,” one woman from Wilton, Connecticut said.

Plows and salt spreaders worked to clear the streets, but one man said no matter what the conditions, the first snow of the season is always challenging.

“It’s really the first time I’ve been on the road this winter with the snow. So you have to figure out how good your car performs in it,” he said. “It’s been a whole year now, and a whole year of wear on the car, the tires. So you’ve got to make sure everything’s good.”

In Cape May County on the south Jersey shore, the snow fell non-stop from about 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with the heaviest coming down around 1 p.m. CBS2’s David Spunt reported seeing about eight inches of accumulation in Sea Isle City, where winds whipped along the boardwalk.

“It’s cold, and it’s snowy, and it looks like it’s not going to stop any time soon,” North Carolina resident Tino Ferrara said. “You can’t escape it, I think it’s hitting everybody at some point across the East Coast. So you’re not going to get away from it. You can’t hide from it.”

The mayor told Spunt there were no major problems on the roads, but officials were concerned about black ice as temperatures fell.

“Other than the snow, it’s a beautiful day,” Sea Isle City Mayor Len Desiderio said. “The black ice is very, very dangerous, and it’s something that you know causes many, many problems for everybody.”

The heaviest snow in the Garden State was expected along the southern coast. Forecasters said accumulations of 8 to 12 inches were possible there before the storm ends Saturday night. About 2 to 6 inches were expected in central Jersey, while northern areas were expected to see 1 to 3 inches.

CBS2’s weather watchers recorded one of the highest totals of 8.5 inches along the Jersey shore.

Meanwhile in Queens, the snow made for a slippery mess for drivers and many people trying to get around on foot.

“The roads are pretty bad today, everybody’s slipping and sliding, and cars are getting into accidents,” Bayside resident Jorge Estrella said. “We’re lucky we even made it to the gas station.” 

The city’s sanitation department said they made changes after the record-setting blizzard last January dumped nearly three feet of snow in some areas. Judy Stupp told CBS2’s Brian Conybeare she remembers the blizzard all too well.

“I couldn’t get out of my house there was so much snow,” she said.

Stupp lives on 222nd Street in Bayside, where it was so bad, a city snow plow actually got stuck. Saturday’s storm wasn’t nearly as bad, and Stupp said the city is doing a better job.

“I did see a sanitation truck go up about 10 minutes ago, so I was really pleased. I haven’t actually driven on the street in a few hours, so I don’t know how bad it is around here, but sometimes I think we get forgotten in our neighborhood,” she said.

As CBS2’s Raegan Medgie reported, there were about 1,000 plows on the roads in the five boroughs of New York City, along with 700 salt spreaders. To track the trucks, visit PlowNYC.

“We will stay on our routes, because everyone is on a route, but we will keep track of all of the folks that call in to 311,” New York Sanitation Department Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said of the cleanup effort. 

1010 WIN’s Roger Stern was outside the New York City Sanitation Department depot at Spring and West Streets as trucks filled with salt set out to make sure the roads around the city remained passable Saturday.

Connecticut State Police tweeted pictures and videos Saturday afternoon from a multi-vehicle accident on I-91 near Middletown. Troopers report at least 20 cars, three tractor trailers, and a tanker were involved. At this time there does not appear to be any serious injuries.

Travel became more treacherous as the day progressed. Authorities urged residents to avoid travel if possible, but those who must be on the roads should allow extra travel time.

Experts warn if you have to stop and your vehicle doesn’t have anti-lock breaks, make sure to pump the break pedal if you go into a skid. For those east of the city, make sure to dress warmly in case you get stuck and have to shut off your engine.

Tri-State area airports were experiencing significant delays as a result of Saturday’s winter blast. For the latest information, make sure to check the FAA’s website before you leave home.

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