As Long Islanders brace for an impending blizzard, county and state officials announced Thursday they are taking steps to ensure residents are safe, roadways are clear and warming centers are open.
We’ll keep you updated throughout the day as more information becomes available.
FRIDAY UPDATES [1/3/14]:
- The Long Island Expressway is closed until 8 a.m.
- JFK Airport is closed until 8:30 a.m.
- The Long Island Rail Road is operating on a weekend schedule with minor delays reported due to the storm.
- All Nassau and Suffolk County courts are closed, except for arraignment parts in Hempstead and Central Islip. More information here.
- New York City Schools are closed and most school districts on Long Island are also reporting closures (more in School Closures below)
ON THE ROADS:
[UPDATED 6:14 p.m., 1/2/14]: The Long Island Expressway will be closed from the Queens-Nassau County line to Riverhead from midnight to 5 a.m. on Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday evening. Anyone caught driving along a closed roadway is subject to arrest and could potentially face 15 days in jail under a class B misdemeanor charge.
All Long Island parkways and Sunrise Highway will remain open, but police warn they may be closed if the weather continues to worsen.
Long Islanders are being encouraged to stay home and remain off the roads until conditions improve.
[From Thursday Morning]: A light coat of snow dropped onto the roadways Thursday morning leading to a slew of accidents and traffic slowdowns on major thoroughfares, including the Long Island Expressway, where a fatal accident closed several lanes near the Queens-Nassau border during the morning commute.
Governor Andrew Cuomo warned New Yorkers Wednesday afternoon that major roadways across the state, including the LIE and Long Island parkways, could be closed by Thursday afternoon to ensure smooth snow removal.
“We don’t want people to use their vehicle to commute in the morning and can’t get home tomorrow night because roads are closed,” he said during a conference call Wednesday.
Officials in both Nassau and Suffolk counties said they will make decisions on road closures, as the storm progresses. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is expected to brief reporters about blizzard preparations at a 2 p.m. news conference in Commack. We’ll keep you updated here.
ON THE RAILS:
[Updated 7:30 p.m., 1/2/14]: Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, all Long Island Rail Road trains will operate on a weekend schedule with an anticipated lowered ridership.
There will be no train service between Ronkonkoma and Greenport, but busses will be available. There will also be no service along the railroad’s West Hempstead branch. Commuters on that branch are encouraged to use stations in Hempstead, Lynbrook, Valley Steam or Merillon Avenue.
Long Island Rail Road station waiting rooms will remain about around-the-clock until at least Monday afternoon, officials said. Commuters are being told to allow additional travel time and use caution at stations and while boarding trains.
The commuter rail agency reported no serious delays Thursday and said they’ve called in extra engineers and signal maintainers. The agency said they have activated switch heaters and will be treating the system’s interlocking tracks with anti-freeze material. Additional staff, including track workers, will be posted at “critical locations” and will be able to respond to any rail difficulties, the agency said in a Thursday morning storm briefing.
If snow accumulations reach more than 10 inches, the LIRR said they may temporarily suspend service for customer and employee safety to clear the snow from the tracks.
You can stay ahead of MTA service or route changes here.
IN THE AIR:
[Updated 1:57 p.m., 1/2/14]: At Long Island’s MacArthur Airport in Islip, all flights after 6 p.m. Thursday are canceled. Airport officials are still urging travelers to check with their carriers for updated flight information.
Travelers at JFK and LaGuardia airports are being told to call their airline to check flight information before coming to the airport.
LOCAL STORM WATCH:
In Suffolk, the county’s Emergency Operations Center will open at 8 a.m. and remain fully staffed with emergency personnel throughout the storm, County Executive Steve Bellone said Thursday. Public Works employees were also out early Thursday with salt-spreading equipment, Bellone said.
[Updated 10:17 a.m., 1/2/14]: The Village of Rockville Centre declared a snow emergency Thursday morning. As a result, there is no parking on any roads in the village, police said, and all parked vehicles must be moved off the street. Village officials also revoked any overnight parking authorization passes.
State of Emergency decelerations have been announced in several other Long Island towns, villages and cities. In Suffolk County's largest town, Brookhaven, all vehicles must be off the roads by 9 p.m.
PSEG Long Island advises they are closing their customer offices at 1 p.m. on Thursday. All the employees working there are being reassigned to blizzard restoration, the company says.
The following school districts announced closures for Thursday, as of 10:30 a.m.: West Hempstead School District; Glen Cove School District. There will be no afternoon or evening activities at Farmingdale State College, Half Hollow Hills Schools, Riverhead Central School District, Harborfields School District and Lynbrook School District. Kings Parks Schools will close early and there will be no afternoon classes at SUNY Old Westbury, but offices will remain open.
Hofstra University will close at 3 p.m. and Adelphi University will close at 4:30 p.m. Both will remain closed Friday.
There’s an extensive list of closures and early dismissals on News 12 Long Island’s website here.
Visiting hours at the Nassau County jail are cancelled for both Thursday and Friday, according to County Executive Ed Mangano. A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco said there were no plans to cancel visiting at their facilities in Riverhead and Yaphank.
All activities at Nassau County parks will be closed beginning at 3 p.m. on Thursday.
All courts in Nassau County will be closed Friday due to the storm, a spokesman said. For additional information about state court closures, visit nycourts.gov
Nassau County’s WARMBED, the emergency shelter relief program, is now active, Mangano said. An emergency placement hotline will be open between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. on Thursday and open again at 6 p.m. on Friday with an anticipated closing time of 8 a.m. on Monday. Staff from the county’s social service agency will refer callers to appropriate shelters. You can reach the hotline at 1-866-WARMBED.
Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg tweets: Due to the Winter Weather Advisory, the deadline for filing all property tax exemptions has been extended to Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014.
Tanger Outlets in Riverhead are expected to close at 4 p.m. on Thursday. Representatives expect to have information about Friday’s schedule available by 8 a.m. tomorrow.
A community meeting for the Suffolk County Police First Precinct is cancelled for Thursday night.
In Nassau: The County’s non-emergency hotline will open at 12 p.m. on Thursday. If you have a “non-life-threatening emergency,” call 1-888-684-4274 throughout the storm. As always, those with life-threatening emergencies should call 911.
In Suffolk: You can reach the Suffolk County Police non-emergency hotline at 631-852-2677. Officials urge you not to use the 911 system unless “you are in need of assistance with an immediate physical or medical emergency.”
If you lose electricity, you can reach PSEG Long Island at 1-800-490-0075.
Nassau County Social Services: 516-227-8519/After Hours: 516-573-8626
Nassau University Medical Center: 516-572-0123
Nassau County Coalition against Domestic Violence Hotline: 516-542-0404
Long Island Crisis Counseling & Referral Center Hotline: 516-679-1111
Stay with Examiner.com for continuing coverage throughout the storm. This post will be updated as more information becomes available.