2011 Top Story No. 3: A winter season some would like to forget

12/30/2011 7:00 AM |

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Wind blows the snow around at Founders Landing last winter.

It’s easy to chose to block out the months that the North Fork was mired in snow several feet deep last winter, but like it or not, the harsh winter had a big effect on many lives.

The ferocious wind and snow storm that hit Long Island the day after Christmas in 2010 was just Mother Nature’s warning shot. One foot of snow from that storm was still on the ground when the storms began to pile up, one after another, in early January.

After two small snowfalls the first week in January, another major storm barrelled up the coast on Jan 11, again dropping more than a foot. A large tree toppled over on Main Road in Mattituck and about 260 residents were without power in the wake of the storm. Train and bus services were canceled and many people were snowed in and unable to travel for at least a day.

“We got about 18 inches here in Greenport and my house is outside the village and the road wasn’t cleared until late,” said Greenport Mayor David Nyce the next day. “And then it took until after 1:30 to get the driveway dug out. A pretty sight, but not a pretty sight, if you know what I mean.”

Another big snow struck on Jan. 27, followed by a major ice storm on Jan. 31 that severely strained tree limbs and the patience of a populace that had long become used to being buried under the white stuff. Smaller snowfalls became so commonplace they didn’t even register, and by the end of the month January had officially been declared the snowiest January on record.

The snow piled up in every outdoor area it could be stored. Municipal plow crews worried around the clock, and private contractors were raking in new plowing clients. In Riverhead, men with shovels walked from door to door offering their services downtown, which were often heartily accepted. Environmentalists launched a campaign against Connecticut’s decision to dump the excess snow in the Long Island Sound.

By mid-February, the worst of the storms were over, but the snow on the ground still remained. School boards calculated later in the month that, since so many storms happened on weekends and during holidays, many districts somehow managed to get through the winter without using all their snow days.

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