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National Weather Service warning: ‘a life-threatening, potentially historic winter storm’ to impact East End

The National Weather Service is warning of  “a life-threatening, potentially historic winter storm” to impact Long Island tonight into Tuesday.

In anticipation of the storm intensifying so much late this afternoon that evening travel will be dangerous, Gov. Andrew Cuomo last night urged commuters to stay home today if possible or leave work early.

The severity and timing of the storm may force the closure of major roadways, including the L.I. Expressway, this evening, and the cancellation of public transportation systems, the governor warned last night.

Residents should stay off the roads during the storm and after it ends until plow trucks can open all roadways to ensure safe travel.

Light snow is expected to develop this morning to the south and west of the local area and slowly expand northward throughout the day, according to the weather service, which says to expect one to three inches with this first wave of snow.

A coastal low will rapidly intensify as it bears down on Long Island and is expected to stall southeast of Montauk late tonight into Tuesday. It will bring heavy snow and strong winds to the East End, according to the weather service and create blizzard conditions across the entire region.

Snowfall rates of two to four inches per hour are expected late tonight into Tuesday morning.

The National Weather Service has dialed back the snowfall total accumulations forecast for our area and is now calling for totals of 18 to 24 inches, with locally higher amounts in areas of snow banding.

A blizzard warning remains in effect through midnight Tuesday. There is potential for sustained winds up to 35 mph on Long Island and gusts of 45 to 50 mph and up to 60 mph across the East End.

The National Weather Service urges residents to prepare for the storm — and the likelihood of loss of heat, power and phone service and shortage of supplies as a result of its impacts — by making sure to have on hand flashlights and extra batteries, extra food and water, prescription medications, first-aid supplies, adequate heating fuel and an emergency heat source and a fire extinguisher.

Southold Town HIghway Superintendent Vincent Orlando said with such a massive storm on the way, preparations have been amped up a notch higher than they would be for a typical snowfall.

“We’re preparing differently than with any other snowstorm. Because of the volume that they’re predicting for us, the transfer station, the highway department, the department of public works, and all town departments are pooling their assets. “Even though we’re single and separate, we all come together for an extreme weather event. We become one team and use all the town’s assets.”

The transfer station, for example, has large pay loaders that will be used to help tackle the snow.

Orlando said the town’s salt barn is full to capacity and trucks are fueled up and full. “We’re hoping we can weather the storm until we can get re-supplied,” he said.

Crews will already be at work when the first snow is expected to fall, Orlando said. Depending on how quickly the snow will begin to fall, Orlando said the decision will be made on whether to sand or plow first.

Orlando asked residents to be patient. “We’ll address all the issues once we get roads and infrastructure open,” he said.

Residents are also asked to park off the road, and to also move basketball hoops and other items off the road to allow crews to work.

“This is  a large amount of snow,” Orlando said, adding that some road endings might see higher than normal snow piles. “Be patient. We have to put it someplace. The snow has to go somewhere.”

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell sent out a message to residents Sunday night: “We are anticipating a substantial storm to move into the area by Monday, with light snow during the day getting heavier during the evening hours and overnight. Winds gusts  reaching 65 miles per hour, wind chills in the single digits and drifting snow will make conditions hazardous,” he said.

Southold Town’s emergency response team, he said, would like to remind all residents that preparations should be made early prior to the storm.

“You should stock up on supplies prior to the storm and prepare for power outages. Some items that should be kept on hand are bottled water and non-perishable food items, flashlights with extra batteries, a first aid kit, a battery operated radio and extra blankets and sleeping bags. People should remember to charge all cell phones and mobile devices and all home generators should be checked,” he said.

In addition, Russell said, “Driving should be kept to a minimum and only for necessary travel. All cars should be parked off the road so that the police, fire departments and Southold’s highway department crews can perform their respective duties.”

The supervisor said he would be in regular contact with shelter volunteers and are ready to open shelters on a moment’s notice if need be.

Residents are asked to monitor local radio stations, news sites, and the Southold Town website for additional instructions, information and announcements as the storm develops.

Important numbers include Southold Town Emergency number: 911,

Southold Town Emergency Operations Center: 631-765-2784,

Southold Town Non-Emergency: 631-765-2600

Southold Town Highway Department: 631-765-3140

Southold Human Resource Center : 631-298-4460

PSE&G: 800 490-0075

National Grid:   800-490-0045

“This extreme weather event will create difficulties and inconvenience for all of our residents. For the safety of all of our residents we ask that you be prepared and follow all requests and of the suggested actions listed above so that we can address all issues as they arise,” Russell said.

Southold Town Police Chie Martin Flatley said Saturday’s snow resulted in only one accident, a vehicle that lost control on slippery pavement and ended up in the median of County Route 48 in Cutchogue Saturday night at about 8:20 p.m. “There was no damage to the car or injuries to its occupants,” he said.

Looking ahead to Monday, Flatley said, “Obviously, with the forecast for the next two days including significant snow and blizzard-like conditions, we always encourage all residents to stay at home and off of the roads as they may become impassable during this storm. Motorists that venture out into these conditions only endanger themselves and make it more difficult for emergency vehicles and clean-up crews to conduct necessary business.”

In Greenport, village officials have cancelled Monday night’s scheduled village board meeting and moved that meeting until Wednesday night at 6 p.m.

During the storm, village officials have asked residents to remove cars from the road, to facilitate plowing and help keep crews and residents safe. Residents are asked to maintain their sidewalks, and to check on neighbors, especially the elderly and those with special needs.

“Most importantly, do not drive on the road unless absolutely necessary,” village officials said.

Greenport residents are asked to call 631-477-0172 for utilities emergencies. For all other emergencies, they are asked to call Southold Town Police Department at 631-765-2600, or dial 911. For a special needs emergency, resident should contact the Village of Greenport at 631-477-0248, x 215.

“Once again, we encourage you to use the resources the village has developed for village residents in keeping you and your family safe,” village officials said.

Photo: Satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Dept. of Commerce

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.