Friday night found hundreds of motorists stuck in disabled vehicles as a massive snowstorm dumped up to 28” of snow on the Long Island Expressway. Stranded in their cars, many were forced to hunker down for the night without food or water as outside storm winds clocking upwards of 80 mph pummeled their windows.
Others chose to brave the elements and abandon their cars, returning Saturday morning to find their vehicles buried under massive snowdrifts or entirely plowed under. All in all several hundred cars got stuck on the 6-mile stretch.
According to Suffolk County police, travelers began getting stuck on the Long Island Expressway mid afternoon Friday when weather conditions suddenly worsened in the area and traffic became clogged. With visibility drastically reduced, vehicles started backing up. The rapidly accumulating snowfall soon began blocking lanes, making it impossible for motorists to pass other vehicles or to exit the thruway.
Long Island was especially hard hit by the snowstorm, receiving in some areas more than two feet of snow in a relatively short time span.
While no injuries or deaths were reported the disruption caused great apprehension on the part of those stranded, who in some cases were not sure if they would survive the night.
Saturday morning saw cars littered across the expressway, abandoned on the side or in the middle of the highway, hindering efforts to plow. As snowplows struggled to clear the area, the National Guard deployed teams on snowmobiles to rescue motorists who had been stranded for the night.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who visited the area and oversaw the cleanup, said more than 300 snowplows as well as other heavy machinery were deployed.
By comparison, the snowstorm caused relatively little damage in New York City whose citizens went about their business, albeit in slushy conditions.
By early this morning things were getting back to normal as road crews worked in below-zero temperatures to clear the freeway and exit ramps.