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Blizzard

A look at Port Jefferson Harbor from the Village Center during Winter Storm Grayson as blizzard-force winds and more than a foot of snow pound the coast Jan. 4. Photo from Margot Garant

Winter Storm Grayson arrived early Jan. 4 and pounded Port Jefferson, and the surrounding areas to the tune of more than 16 inches of snow.

The storm was officially categorized as a blizzard by the New York office of the National Weather Service, with sustained winds or frequent gusts greater than 35 mph, “considerable” falling and blowing snow, visibility of less than a quarter of a mile and more than three hours of duration. Port Jefferson Village Mayor Margot Garant, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Luppinacci (R), Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) declared states of emergency for each of their respective jurisdictions.

“This storm was actually worse than predicted for us,” Bellone said during a briefing Jan. 5. “We saw up to 16 inches of snow in certain parts of the county. This was, as we discussed, a very difficult and challenging storm because of all the conditions — high rate of snowfall, very rapid rate and high winds. It made it very difficult. I want to thank all of those who heeded our calls to stay off the roads yesterday. There were far too many people on the roads. The result was hundreds of motorists ended up stranded.”

Based on unofficial observations taken Jan. 4 and 5, the highest snowfall total reported by the New York NWS office was in Terryville, where 16.4 inches of snow fell during the storm. Suffolk County appeared to take the brunt of Grayson’s wrath according to the NWS data, not only in actual snowfall, but also as the home to the highest wind gusts in the state during the storm, with gusts exceeding 60 mph.

Despite the substantial snowfall totals, Main Street in Port Jeff Village was up and running and open for business Friday morning, according to Garant, who said the village’s Department of Public Works did an “A++” job in an email.

“We have a good system and a great team in place,” she said, adding she was thrilled with how quickly village streets were passable. “The community really makes this possible for us by staying home and avoiding parking on the snow emergency streets.”

Steve Gallagher, the village’s DPW superintendent, said 22 village DPW employees worked using nine trucks equipped with plows and nine trucks with both plows and sanders to clear the streets. He estimated the village used between 150 and 200 tons of salt and sand mix to mitigate the impact of road and sidewalk icing. He reiterated Garant’s point that cooperation from the public is critical in returning the village back to business as usual following a storm.

“Village roads were passable at all times thanks to the dedication and commitment of the men in the DPW,” he said. “People staying off the roads and not parking in the streets would help expedite the clearing of the roads and allow a better job.”

PSEG Long Island reported 97 percent of the 21,700 of its customers who lost power as a result of the storm had their service restored by 9 p.m. Jan. 5.

“Our goal, always, is to restore power as quickly and safely as possible,” a spokesperson for the utility said in a press release. “We ask our customers for a fair amount of patience and to know we will be there just as soon as it is safe.”

The storm came in the midst of a record-setting stretch of below freezing temperatures, according to the NWS. A streak of 13 straight days with a maximum temperature below 32 degrees Fahrenheit measured at Long Island McArthur Airport in Islip was snapped Jan. 9. The 13-day duration was the second longest period of below freezing temperatures reported at the airport since 1963.

A large nor’easter took form off the coast of Florida and rode up the east coast. Photo from Legislator Kara Hahn's Office

Winter Storm Grayson was touted as a powerful blizzard featuring substantial snowfall and hurricane-force winds, and it has delivered.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for the area beginning 1 a.m. Jan. 4 through 12 a.m. Friday, Jan. 5. The advisory is associated with a large and powerful nor’easter, which took form off the coast of Florida and rode up the east coast.

While the greatest snowfall amounts are expected to be northeast of Long Island, meteorologists expect that we may see as much as 14 inches of snow combined with high winds exceeding 60 MPH that will cause near blizzard conditions.  This storm poses a risk of coastal flooding in the Western Long Island Sound.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has issued a State of Emergency for all of downstate New York. Cuomo also issued a travel advisory from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

“It is a combination of snow and wind and frigid temperatures,” Cuomo said. “That is a bad mix. I have been driving around myself this morning looking at the conditions — they are terrible, and only going to deteriorate further throughout the day. The wind is going to pick up, and there’s no doubt there is delays on mass transit, and the roads are going to be in poor condition. They’re forecasting three to six inches in the city, up to 12 inches on long Island and six to nine in Westchester. The roads in Westchester are bad. Roads on the Island are bad, and it’s only going to get worse. So schools are closed. If you don’t have to be on the roads, you really shouldn’t be, because it is going to be ugly.”

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) has also issued a State of Emergency in the Town of Brookhaven effective Jan. 4 at 8 a.m. Vehicles that are parked in the street must be moved to driveways or be subject to towing at the owner’s expense. Any abandoned vehicles obstructing access for snowplows and emergency vehicles may also be removed by the town. All residents are urged to stay off the roads unless there is an emergency or if it is absolutely essential to travel.

“Driving is expected to be extremely hazardous due to heavy snow and wind conditions,” Romaine said. “Town snow removal crews will be working throughout the day and night to clear the roads until all are safe and passable.”

As a result of the predictions, many school districts closed school ahead of time.

There are closings at the following schools:

Alternatives For Children – East Setauket

Alternatives for Children Daycare – East Setauket

B.E.S.T. Learning Center – Smithtown

Building Blocks Developmental Preschool – Commack

Calling All Kids, Too – Huntington

Catholic Charities Outpatient Clinic – Commack

Children of America – Smithtown

Children of America – Port Jefferson Station

Church of St. Gerard Majella – Port Jefferson Station

Cold Spring Harbor Central School District

Commack School District

Comsewogue Public Library

Comsewogue School District

Coram Child Care

DDI Adult Day Programs – All Locations

DDI Early Childhood Learning Center – Huntington

DDI School Age Program – Huntington

DDI School Age Program – Smithtown

Day Haven Adult Day Services Program – Port Jefferson

East Northport Jewish Center Religious School

Elwood School District

Elwood’s Little Einsteins

Emma S. Clark Library – Setauket

First Presbyterian Church of Port Jefferson

Gold Medal Gymnastics Center Centereach

Gold Medal Gymnastics Center Huntington

Gold Medal Gymnastics Center Rocky Point

Gold Medal Gymnastics Centers Smithtown

Grace Lane Kindergarten – Coram

Happy Time Preschool – Smithtown

Harbor Country Day School – St. James

Harborfields Central School District

Hauppauge Public Library

Hauppauge Public Library

Holy Family Regional School – Commack

Humpty Dumpty Day Nursery – Greenlawn

Huntington Montessori

Huntington Public Library

Huntington School District

Infant Jesus R.C. Church Religious Ed – Port Jefferson

Ivy League School – Smithtown

JKL Montessori School – Commack

Kiddie Academy – East Setauket

Kiddie Academy – Greenlawn

Kiddie Academy of Miller Place

Kiddie Care Early Learning Center – Commack

Kids of Miller Place

Kids of Mount Sinai

Kings Park School District

LI School for the Gifted – Huntington Station

Little Flower Union Free School District – Wading River

Little Rascals Child Care – Miller Place

Long Island Bone & Joint – Port Jefferson

Love of Learning Montessori School – Centerport

Magic Circle Nursery School – East Northport

Marion Kenney Day Care Center – Wading River

Martin C. Barell School- Commack

Messiah Preschool & Day Care – Setauket

Middle Country School District

Miller Place School District

Miss Barbara’s Preschool – Centereach

Miss Dawn’s Child Care Center – Huntington

Miss Mella’s Footsteps to Learning – Coram

NSSA – Adult Services – Commack

Noah’s Ark Day Care Center – Port Jefferson

North Shore Jewish Center – Port Jefferson Station

North Shore Montessori School – Stony Brook

Northport – East Northport Public Library

Northport / East Northport School District

Options for Community Living Inc. – Smithtown

Our Lady of Wisdom Regional – Port Jefferson

Our Savior New American School – Centereach

Planet Kids – Coram

Port Jefferson Free Library

Port Jefferson School District

Primarily 2’s and 3’s – Mount Sinai

Prime Time Preschool – Kings Park

Pumpkin Patch Day Nursery – Commack

Rainbow Chimes – Huntington

Reach for the Stars Pre – School – Ridge

Rocky Point School District

STEP Preschool – Smithtown

Saf-T-Swim – Commack

Saf-T-Swim – Coram

Sappo School – Commack

Shoreham-Wading River Central School District

Smithtown Central School District

Smithtown Christian Early Learning Center

Smithtown Christian School

Smithtown Special Library District

South Huntington School District

St. Anselm’s Episcopal Nursery School – Shoreham

St. Anthony of Padua Religious Ed – East Northport

St. Anthony’s High School – South Huntington

St. Frances Cabrini Religious Ed – Coram

St. James Lutheran Preschool – St. James

St. James Religious Ed – Setauket

St. Joseph’s Religious Ed – Kings Park

St. Louis de Monfort Religious Education – Sound Beach

St. Louis de Montfort Preschool – Sound Beach

St. Margaret of Scotland Church – Selden

St. Mark’s Religious Formation Program – Shoreham

St. Patrick School – Smithtown

St. Philip Neri Religious Ed – Northport

Step by Step Montessori – Miller Place

Stony Brook Child Care Services

Stony Brook Gynecology & Obstetrics – Rocky Point

Stony Brook Gynecology & Obstetrics – Setauket

Stony Brook Kidney Center – East Setauket

Stony Brook University – Psychological Ctr / Psych B Bldg. – Stony Brook

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook Urology – East Setauket & Commack

Sts. Philip and James Religious Education – St. James

Sts. Philip and James School – St. James

Suffolk County Community College – Selden

Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center – Commack

Sunshine Alternative Education & Prevention Center – Port Jefferson

Temple Beth El Religious School – Huntington

Temple Isaiah Religious School – Stony Brook

Tender Hearts Preschool – Mount Sinai

The Childrens Community HEAD START Program – Port Jefferson

The Day Care Center at Ivy League – Smithtown

The Knox School – St. James

The Laurel Hill School – East Setuket

The Learning Center – Huntington

The Learning Experience – Centereach

The Learning Experience – Mount Sinai

The Learning Experience – Northport

The Learning Experience -Rocky Point

The Learning Experience – Stony Brook

The Village Preschool – Northport

Three Village Church – East Setauket

Three Village Schools – Stony Brook

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church – Rocky Point

Trinity Regional School – East Northport

Tutor Time of Nesconset – Smithtown

UCP – Suffolk – Hauppauge

UCP Suffolk – The Children’s Center – Commack

United Methodist Nursery School – Huntington

Wesleyan School – Smithtown

West Hills Montessori – Huntington

Wisdom Tree Preschool – Miller Place

Work of Heart Preschool – South Huntington

Please monitor local media coverage or the National Weather Service for up-to-date weather forecasts and notifications. For your safety and the safety of emergency responders, please adhere to all travel restrictions and advisories that may be issued.

For you convenience, listed are some important emergency and not-emergency contact numbers to help you get through the storm should you need assistance:

PSEGLI Outages – 800-490-0075

Police Emergency – 911*

Police Non-emergency – (631) 852-2677, (631-852-COPS)

Town of Brookhaven Highway Department – (631) 451-9200**

Suffolk County Department of Public Works – (631) 852-4070***

*Please do not call 911 or other emergency telephone lines unless you are in need of assistance with an immediate physical or medical emergency.

**Responsible for all roads in the district (outside of incorporated villages) except County Road 97 and New York State Routes 112, 25A and 347.

***For emergency issues on county roads such as Nicolls Road (CR 97) only.

Additional information, notifications and details may be posted by Suffolk County’s Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services as the storm develops and impacts the area.  Click here to visit the department’s information page.

Port Jefferson Trustee Larry LaPointe stands with code officers, from left, James Murdocco, John Vinicombe, Paul Barbato and Gina Savoie as they pose with their proclamations. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Port Jefferson Village honored five code enforcement officers on Monday night who officials say went above the call of duty to serve the community.

Two helped save an overdosing man’s life, one attempted to revive a car crash victim, another thwarted a burglary and a lieutenant protected the village during the recent heavy snowstorm. The board of trustees presented them with proclamations for their service to cheers from the audience at Village Hall.

Gina Savoie was commended for preventing a break-in at a home in the Harbor Hills area earlier this month after she saw suspicious activity and called for police assistance. According to code bureau Chief Wally Tomaszewski, two Coram residents were arrested for loitering as a result.

Paul Barbato, who received a proclamation last year for reviving a man in cardiac arrest at a Port Jefferson restaurant, was honored again Monday for attempting to save a Belle Terre man trapped inside a Lamborghini that had crashed into a pole on East Broadway. Barbato, the first on the scene of the mid-December crash near High Street, got inside the car and performed CPR.

Lt. John Borrero is honored. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Lt. John Borrero is honored. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Although his attempt ultimately proved unsuccessful, he “tried desperately to save his life,” Tomaszewski said in a previous interview. “Believe me, his boots were filled with blood.”

A couple of weeks later, James Murdocco and John Vinicombe responded to an opioid overdose at the Islandwide Taxi stand near the Port Jefferson Long Island Rail Road station. Mayor Margot Garant said Monday that the officers were told the young victim was dead, and they found no pulse or respiration. Murdocco and Vinicombe each administered the anti-overdose medication Narcan and Murdocco performed CPR.

The man regained consciousness and “became violent,” she said, and had to be restrained.

Garant added an unplanned honor to Monday night’s affair, commending Lt. John Borrero for his work during the blizzard, commonly dubbed Winter Storm Jonas, that hit Long Island hard on Jan. 23.

“I cannot tell you what this one gentleman did, on tour all day, making sure our streets are safe, shutting down roads, calling other code enforcement officers in during a massive blizzard — he’s out there helping employees get to work at St. Charles Hospital,” the mayor said. “Your service to this community is just invaluable, John. I cannot tell you the amount of respect you earned that night.”

She told the audience that there is more to the code enforcement bureau than meets the eye.

“These officers are not merely giving out tickets,” Garant said, “but they’re saving lives.”

Holtsville Hal, his handler Greg Drossel and Master of Ceremonies Wayne Carrington make their way onstage to cheers and applause on Groundhog Day. Photo by Alex Petroski

To the delight of about 100 people in attendance on Tuesday, it was announced that famed Brookhaven groundhog Holtsville Hal did not see his shadow, indicating spring would come early this year.

Excited Holtsville Hal fans collected streamers as a keepsake from Groundhog Day. Photo by Alex Petroski
Excited Holtsville Hal fans collected streamers as a keepsake from Groundhog Day. Photo by Alex Petroski

Hal made his yearly Groundhog Day appearance at Brookhaven Town’s Holtsville Wildlife and Ecology center at about 7:30 a.m., before a crowd with fresh memories of being walloped with more than 2 feet of snow in a recent blizzard.

Tradition says that if Hal — or, as he’s known in the Town of Brookhaven as a throwback to the classic Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day,” the Great Prognosticator of Prognosticators — sees his shadow when he wakes from hibernation on Groundhog Day, the community is in for six more weeks of winter.

“As I stood by my burrow and looked to the ground, there was no shadow for me to be found,” Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) read from a large scroll as Hal was presented to the mass of onlookers. “So kids and their families, put away your sleds and snow blowers.” There were raucous cheers.

Holtsville Hal is presented to a group of young onlookers on Groundhog Day. Photo by Alex Petroski
Holtsville Hal is presented to a group of young onlookers on Groundhog Day. Photo by Alex Petroski

Holtsville Hal was handled by Greg Drossel as he posed for photos with Master of Ceremonies Wayne Carrington, Councilmen Neil Foley (R) and Dan Panico (R) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D), members of the Holtsville Fire Department and many others. He even posed for a selfie with one young admirer.

Last year, Hal also predicted an early spring. This year he might be right, if only just for Tuesday, as those who woke up early to attend the event were treated to a mild, sunny morning by the time the groundhog made his much-anticipated appearance.

With the viewers in good spirits, Carrington reminded the crowd to donate whatever they could to the ecology center to support its programs.

This version corrects the spelling of Councilwoman Valerie Cartright’s name.

Supervisor Frank Petrone speaks on the highway department's preparation for the winter season on Dec. 11. Photo by A.J. Carter.

Winter is coming — and the Huntington Highway Department is ready for it.

In an effort to make the season as seamless as possible, the department has bulked up its winter arsenal with additional dump trucks, refurbished old ones and updated and digitized response services to make the town more accessible to residents.

Highway Superintendent Pete Gunther said the operations center was recently enacted within the highway department to make the town more productive when responding to residents’ requests for assistance services such as plowing. He said residents could simply email the operations center through the town’s website if they require help, where foreman will be notified via iPads to keep them up-to-date on service requests.

“We’ve become really automated now,” Gunther said at a press conference on Friday. “Anything that comes into the operation center can be immediately routed to the area foreman — whether it’s snow or a storm — and take care of whatever the problem is.”

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said that the department’s efforts are a true example of what Huntington can do when there is cooperation, especially with what he called a “most effective” highway superintendent, who Petrone said has done wonders at his job.

“The people have been served very well by Pete Gunther,” he said at the press conference.

Gunther said the town has acquired 10 new dump trucks this year, equipped with plows and sanders that should last between 25 and 30 years. The town also refurbished 10 older dump trucks with updates like stainless steel bodies to remedy damage from salt exposure.

New dump trucks from the Huntington Highway Department with plows on display at a press conference on Dec. 11. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.
New dump trucks from the Huntington Highway Department with plows on display at a press conference on Dec. 11. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

The Huntington Town Board allocated $260,000 for the stainless steel repairs, according to Gunther, and the project was completed $18,000 under budget, adding 12 to 15 years of service to the trucks.

“He’ll be in his eighth term by the time he has to do this again,” Petrone joked. Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said Gunther and his team planned on bringing the town forward in terms of technology.

“To be this prepared this early without the snow is a testament to your leadership,” Edwards said to Gunther.

As for technology upgrades, the department gained 200 portable GPS devices to give to private contractors who help the department during emergencies, allowing the department to reposition equipment in real-time.

Petrone said the town has also mobilized town workers so that they are available if needed for larger highway department projects.

Gunther also urged residents to not park their cars on the street during a storm, as well as leaving basketball hoops set up in the street, to help make plowing as quick and effective as possible.

Thanks to the improvements and upgrades, Guther said, “We are a more efficient and better highway department.”

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