The storm hammering upstate New York, New Jersey and Connecticut is now expected to drop between 1-4 inches of snow on Long Island, forecasters at the National Weather Service said late Monday morning.
That’s more snow than previously expected and figures could be revised further this afternoon, the weather service said. Also, anticipating that the wintry mix can complicate the evening commute, New York City officials asked commuters to take mass transit if possible and urged them to leave early.
“We’re looking at one [inch] to as much as four, less east and more west in Nassau to New York City,” James Connolly, a meteorologist with the weather service in Upton said just before noon. “Right now, we’re continuing with the expectation that the rain we’re having now will transition over to snow.”
Earlier Monday, the weather service was calling for 1-2 inches of snow across Long Island, with less than 1 inch expected on the East End.
In a winter weather advisory updated at 7:30 a.m. Monday, the weather service warned gusting winds would likely lead to downed trees and electrical outages and that conditions would make for “difficult travel developing this afternoon into tonight” for much of the Island.
But, while the weather service said western Long Island can expect about two inches of snow, the east end about one inch, no significant accumulations are expected.
The weather service also said coastal flooding is possible in south central Nassau and central Suffolk, with a gale warning in effect for all Long Island coastal waters.
Though temperatures are briefly expected to climb into the 40s Monday, the weather service said shifting winds will bring dramatically colder air into the area in the afternoon, with snow starting in mid-to-late afternoon — or, just in time to make it miserable for the evening commute.
Winds gusting to 29 mph also are expected.
Areas north and west of New York City are expected to get five inches or more of snow, the weather service said.
Inland areas appeared to be in for the worst snow, with the forecast in Albany predicting 6 to 14 inches. Closer to the heavily populated, coastal Interstate 95 corridor, a wintry mix was more likely.
Only 3 inches of snow was forecast for New York City and 5 inches for Philadelphia. Up to 9 inches, though, was possible in Boston by Tuesday night.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo told nonessential state employees to stay home Monday, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy decided to close government offices for nonessential employees at noon.
Though the Island is expected to get off easy by comparison, road sanders were out in force predawn Monday, laying down salt and sand on major area thoroughfares. And the MTA issued an alert to Long Island Rail Road riders, advising of “wintry weather conditions” in the area — and urging riders to allow not only extra travel time, but to “use caution when walking on station platforms and staircases” Monday. Riders also were urged to monitor for service updates at www.mta.info/lirr.
Forecasters are calling for a slight chance of snow and rain into Tuesday before sunny skies re-emerge. Daytime temperatures for the remainder of the week are expected to be in the low 40s with overnight temperature dipping into the low 30s, the weather service said.
In Nassau, county executive Laura Curran, in a statement released Sunday, advised residents to take extra precautions due to hazardous driving conditions, especially for Monday’s morning and evening commutes. Additionally, Curran said several warming centers will be open throughout the county. Those who need a warm bed overnight, can call the county’s homeless hotline at 1-866-WARMBED.
The storm also caused disruptions for travelers at airports across the country.
Though there were no reported early morning delays at area airports that changed late morning, with the Federal Aviation Administration reporting a traffic management program had been placed in effect at LaGuardia Airport — due to weather conditions related to snow and ice. That was causing average delays of almost two hours, the FAA said. There were no reported airport-specific delays at Kennedy or Islip-MacArthur, though there were many destination-specific delays at Kennedy related to weather in other areas of the country. In fact, more than 200 flights into or out of the U.S. were canceled Monday morning, with more than 700 delays, many of those flights tied to New York-metro area airports and Boston. Delays at Newark were averaging more than three hours, the FAA said. Travelers were being advised to check with their airlines regarding schedule changes or delays.
Speaking Monday morning to reporters in Brooklyn at the city’s emergency-management headquarters about the impending storm, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has deployed 705 salt spreaders, sprayed liquid brine on highway ramps, and has 1,500 plows ready to go once enough snow accumulates. He said the city learned its lesson last winter and wouldn’t rely solely on the National Weather Service: his administration has hired its own meteorologist.
NYC gov’t meteorologist, Joshua Rapp said, “The weather for the commute’s going to be a little messy. You’re probably going to have a bit of rain-snow mix still on the ground and then at about that 5 p.m. time frame, we’re also going to see more of a transition to just pure snow, so at that point we’ll start to see the accumulation sort of build up a little bit.”
MTA’s Craig Cipriano, an acting president with the MTA, said, “We’re fully prepared to get our customers back home safe this evening as well as get them back into the city tomorrow. We’ve had many storm preparations over the last 24 hours, including making sure that our trains are available and extra staffed to do sanding and salting of the platforms as well as making sure that we keep our third-rail heaters on” as well as make sure switches de-iced. At this point we’re expected to run a full, PM-rush hour commute,” Cipriano said.
To get ahead of the evening commute during the wintry mix, de Blasio asked commuters to take mass transit if possible and urged them to leave early. Whether driving or taking mass transit, he advised, “If you can leave early, instead of late, leave early.”
With Matthew Chayes and AP
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