NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Conditions worsened on Long Island late Wednesday, something CBS2’s crews found out just by driving around.
Officials continued to urge drivers to stay off the roads if at all possible.
“Please don’t be fooled. This is a powerful storm and we still have not seen the worst of it yet. We are still predicting 8-12 inches of snow here in Nassau County by the time the storm passes well after dark tonight,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said at an afternoon news conference. “And with wind gusts up to 45 miles per hour, we are still concerned about near whiteout conditions on the roads. This combination will make for dangerous travel throughout the evening, so as always, use caution if you have to travel.”
“Our roads are treacherous, and if you can stay off the roads, please do,” Curran said. “Earlier this morning we were reminded of how important this is. Due to inclement weather, there was a fatal accident on the Wantagh Parkway.”
The storm was blamed for at least one death on the Island. A van flipped over on the Wantagh Parkway just south of Hempstead Turnpike at around 10 a.m. A 51-year-old woman was killed, and five other woman were injured, including one woman who was ejected during the crash. Nassau County police responded to the scene right away, officials said.
A rookie officer just three weeks out of the academy was involved in the rescue, officials said.
“The occupants in the vehicle, it took a while to get out, but all along the gasoline line had ruptured, and there was gasoline being poured onto the officers and the scene. Their heroic actions no doubt saved… additional occupants of that vehicle,” said Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.
Two tractor trailers were also involved in a separate crash on the Long Island Expressway in New Hyde Park at around the same time, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
Ryder said police had aided 34 people, responded to 62 auto accidents, and had received more than 500 calls for service by midafternoon.
“I think that people are looking out the window and seeing this is not as bad we thought it was going to be. The fact – what we’re hearing – the predictions are that it is just going to be just as bad as we thought,” Curran said. “So I don’t want people to get the false idea that it is safe now, because it is not.”
“Welcome to spring. It may not seem like spring, but Mother Nature has been acting strangely for the past few years, and she is again,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference earlier Wednesday. “It is somewhat deceptive. People shouldn’t look out the window and see this level of snowfall and say ‘This is no problem, I can venture out.'”
Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for all of downstate New York, including Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Snow will become heavy Wednesday afternoon and evening, with occasional wind gusts up to 40 mph.
“It’s a heavy, wet snow, which is a problem. It is a heavy, wet snow combined with wind gusts,” Cuomo said. “And that is the combination of a nor’easter that creates problems.”
“We are in the midst of a major winter storm in springtime,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
“Urge people to be safe today: Get off the roads, let the plow operators do their jobs,” Bellone said. “Stay off the roads. If you’re out there, get home, get safe as soon as you can.”
“Four nor’easters in three weeks, this really is the new normal,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “Please take extreme caution.”
Curran said that business owners were no longer allowed to plow snow from parking lots into the road.
“As always, please stay off the roads unless you absolutely have to. If you are driving, use extreme caution,” she said at an earlier news conference. “This evening’s commute is expected to be very messy and dangerous.”
The Long Island Rail Road readied snow-fighting equipment and anti-freeze trains. But it says riders should expect delays and avoid travel if possible.
Some commuters made the trek in to work despite the weather – though they told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell they were leaving for home early.
“I said, heck, I’ll look like a hero going into the office for a couple of hours,” said Rob Collins of Albertson, adding he was going to leave early and was “not taking a chance” on returning later in the afternoon.
“That’s my concern, I’m probably going to end up leaving work early,” said Gabrielle Elsmboly of Roslyn.
“We shut down a little early to get people home safe, because we have a couple people who work in Suffolk County, and it’s gonna take them three hours to get home,” one woman told Gusoff.
The Riverhead town supervisor told Gusoff the back-to-back nor’easters were taking a toll on municipal budgets.
In Babylon Village, one resident told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan what his message was for Mother Nature.
“Go away, let spring come. We’re tired of Old Man Winter. It’s time for him to take a rest,” he said.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)