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Snowfall drops 8.5 inches on North Fork; icy temps continue

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | A snow plow clears the road near Mattituck.
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | A snow plow clears the road near Mattituck.

Though the first major snowstorm of the winter brought some double-digit predictions along with it — and may have one local retailer paying out for the first time in over 20 years due to the snowfall — snowfall across the North Fork fell within the lower end of forecasters’ predictions, with no big surprises coming for emergency responders.

According to National Weather Service, 8.5 inches fell in Orient and Baiting Hollow.

Police Chief Martin Flatley said that no major incidents came through overnight, as the general public kept off the roads as requested.

“It was very slow overnight into this morning,” he said. “I think everyone heeded the warnings to stay off the roads. And it’s probably a good idea to stay off the roads still because of the cold and wind.”

Friday morning, Highway Superintendent Vinceny Orlando had said the snowfall had been bearable enough to keep up with; it was winds forcing drifting snow onto the roads that was more of a challenge.

A NWS special weather statement notes that wind gusts will continue to diminish. However the wind is expected to bring along with it wind chills as low as -10 degrees.

Early Friday afternoon Riverhead Highway Superintendent Gio Woodson had expressed concern over the freezing temps expected, as the extreme cold hampers the ability of salt spread on the roads to properly melt the snow.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone expressed concern for a “false sense of security” drivers may have now that the snowfall is over with and roads begin to clear up.

“My big concern is moving forward throughout the day, as people think it’s OK to drive, ice will be on the roads because of the extremely cold conditions,” he said. “People don’t realize, salt doesn’t work at a certain temperature. It’s going to stay there until it warms up.”

Joey Picca, meteorologist with the NWS, said that while a typical low temperature on Long Island would be in the mid-20s this time of year, overnight lows expected tonight could drop to the zero to 5-degree range. In order for salt to do its job on the roads, said Mr. Woodson, temperatures around 30 degrees would be ideal — though with the sun out, and more cars on the road, conditions are becoming more favorable.