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Snowstorm hits Long Island: See live updates

Governor Andrew Cuomo said he had no plans to close any roads, highways, subways or airports in a press conference held in Suffolk County early Thursday afternoon. He added that the MTA has no plans to shut the Long Island Rail Road because of the storm.

    Downtown Patchogue was mostly deserted Thursday afternoon.

    But The Village Idiot Pub on Main Street was open, with a “full bar” of customers happily riding out the snowstorm, bartender Danielle Pierre said.

    “We always get busy in the snowstorm,” she said. “Why’s that? Because we’re the only place open.”

    She said about 23 customers were sitting at the bar, and another 10 people were in the pub’s dining room.

    “Most of them walked here, I guess. Most of them are local,” Pierre said.

    The pub’s staff all reported for work when the bar opened at 11 a.m., and the bar’s managers had no plans to close early, Pierre said.

    Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri said village residents appeared to have heeded warnings not to drive or park on village streets. Village employees placed fliers on parked cars before the storm asking drivers to move their cars off the streets, he said.

    “People pretty much listen. You do it enough times and they realize how much better it is,” Pontieri said as he surveyed the intersection of Main Street and South Ocean Avenue. “There’s nobody on the road.”

    - Carl MacGowan

    People in Montauk and other areas to the east of Southampton may have thought they were off the hook, snow wise. No such luck.

    Temperatures remained  above freezing longer there than for the rest of the Island. As of just before 10 a.m., 41 degrees was recorded at Montauk Airport. That was due to a bout of warmer air off the ocean that “invaded” just that portion of the South Fork, said Tim Morrin, weather service meteorologist in Upton.

    This attached picture, taken by Julie Evans, shows conditions in Montauk at  10:50 a.m., when most of the Island already had several inches of snow.

    But the reprieve is over, as temperatures started dropping and colder air was sweeping into the area, he said.

    That means rain would be switching to snow, with “still quite a bit of heavy precipitation” coming.

    - Patricia Kitchen and Rachelle Blidner


    Photo credit: Julie Evans

    Since 2 a.m. Thursday, Nassau County police have received calls for 39 auto accidents on roadways, Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun, commanding officer of the Public Information Office, said in a phone interview about 12:15 p.m.

    One of the largest accidents occurred on the westbound Long Island Expressway at Exit 36 at about 9 a.m., when a jackknifed tractor trailer collided with nine other vehicles, LeBrun said. The accident shut the expressway for several exits but was reopened before noon.

    The department has Humvee and high-clearance vehicles out on the roads assisting stranded motorists, LeBrun said.

    Since 2 a.m. Thursday, the department has received 347 calls for service, which can include those for vehicles stuck in snow, lack of heat or electricity in a home, or crimes, LeBrun said. Because of the high number of emergency calls, LeBrun did not immediately have a breakdown of how many of those calls were for stranded motorists.

    Another 57 emergency calls were made for "aided cases," in which people had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance, LeBrun said. There were no reports of emergency vehicles becoming stuck because of the snowstorm, he said.

    - Sarah Armaghan

    Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said the high wind and continual snowfall have made plowing difficult though the town began preparations at 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

    "The guys went out about 4:30 this morning and they were sanding all the intersections, all the hilly parts of town," Carpenter said in a phone interview.

    The town has about 250 pieces of equipment with another 350 rented pieces out in service, with about 250 town employees working on cleaning up and plowing, she said.

    Carpenter praised the local superintendents for canceling school early instead of waiting until morning -- "people appreciated it and we were able to plan our operations around it," she said.

    The town declared a State of Emergency at midnight, mandating that parked vehicles be removed from roadways.

    "It's so important to get them off the roads," she said.

    Aside from the town's senior and recreation centers, town facilities remain open, Carpenter said. The Islip planning board meeting scheduled for Thursday night will be rescheduled.

    She urged residents to stay home and off the roads, and to help out older relatives, friends and neighbors.

    "It's heavy, heavy snow. We're trying to urge seniors to be careful and don't try to plow," she said. "It's a time to pay it forward. If you have an elderly neighbor go over and help out."

    - Sophia Chang

    Huntington Highway Superintendent Pete Gunther said conditions were still treacherous and urged people to stay off the roads.

    He said when conditions allow he will direct crews to begin using an equal mix of sand and salt for hills, and straight salt for other roadways.

    “Until the streets are cleared and the snow stops and we’ve plowed to our best ability to get down to pavement, we won’t use the mix or salt,” Gunther said. “We want as much snow cleared from the streets as possible.”

    — Deborah S. Morris

    Head of the Harbor’s main roads were passable by midday, but side streets will likely not get plowed until the afternoon, said Trustee Judy Ogden, the village’s highway commissioner.

    One of the village’s plow trucks slid off the road and had to be pulled out by the Town of Smithtown Highway Department, she said.

    “It was warm before the storm, so the ground is soft, the snow is heavy, and that makes it a little more difficult to plow,” she said.

    — Nicholas Spangler

    The North Hempstead Town’s 311 call center opened at 6:30 a.m. Thursday to take calls from residents. Highway Department trucks were out during the morning salting the roads and would continue doing so the rest of the day.

    Town officials are asking residents to keep their cars off the roads and in their driveways.

    The Clark Botanical Garden in Albertson was closed Thursday. The pool at Michael J. Tully Park in New Hyde Park was to close at noon.

    The town’s receiver of taxes office was to remain open through its regular closing time of 4:45 p.m.

    The town’s Yes We Can Community center in New Cassel was to close today at 3 p.m., and there would be no after-school activities. Day and evening classes there are canceled.

    — Khristopher Brooks

    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged all Long Islanders to "exercise diligence and consideration" while out on the roads during the snowstorm.

    "If you have to be out on the road, do whatever you have to do early and get off the road," Cuomo said during a news conference in Manhattan. "I am telling you the roads are dangerous."

    He also urged business owners to consider closing early to get people home sooner and alleviate heavy rush-hour traffic.

    Crews were "successful" in cleaning clearing most of the main roads on Long Island, but secondary roads and ramps have been "problematic," as drivers get stuck, backing up traffic and hindering plows, Cuomo said.

    - Staff

    Just because it’s a blizzard doesn’t mean a Southampton surf shop closes. The Flying Point surf and sporting goods store in Southampton Village has never closed for a snowstorm since Margaret Donohoe opened this location 40 years ago, she said.

    “We do well in extreme weather, whether it’s brutally hot or freezing cold or snowy,” said Donohoe, who sold her store to Flying Point last year and now manages it. “People are on a mission to either buy in the summer to buy beach supplies or to buy winter supplies.”

    As of 11 a.m., no customers had come by, she said.

    But Southampton residents aren’t fazed by rough weather, she said.

    “We’re seasoned out here a little more. We’re used to four-wheeling everywhere,” she said.

    A Southampton-based taxi company had more than 500 cancellations because of the storm, its owner said.

    Bryan DaParma of Hometown Taxi said only one taxi was running Thursday morning. He was to close the shop by 11 a.m.

    But he still had vehicles for Medicaid patients who need dialysis and chemotherapy, DaParma said. “We can’t not take them [when they’re] on dialysis. It’s life-threatening,” he said.

    One driver had to take a patient about 50 miles -- from Brentwood into New York City, DaParma said.

    “Obviously, their appointments are important but so is the safety of our drivers and being able to get them there,” DaParma said.

    Nevertheless conditions in Southampton were much better than other parts of Suffolk County at about 10:30 a.m., with only about an inch or two of snow.

    “It’s very deceiving when I look out my window and don’t see a lot of snow to know what my drivers are going through,” he said.

    When asked how much money this storm was costing business, DaParma sighed. “It’s a lot,” he said.

    — Rachelle Blidner

    Nassau County roads were treacherous Thursday morning as plows tried to keep up with the heavy falling snow.

    Jericho Turnpike in Syosset was slick and largely deserted as vehicles struggled to brake.

    A thick snowpack remained on Route 135 heading south through Nassau, while several vehicles were stuck in the snow and police helped push drivers out of snowbanks.

    The Southern State Parkway was better plowed, but that didn’t stop many drivers from crashing into guardrails or forestry off the side of the road.

    Many surface streets in Baldwin and Oceanside were largely empty except for a few commuters intermingled with plows and buses. Several businesses along the main drag were shuttered by the storm, including restaurants and coffee shops.

    — John Asbury

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