Snow, wind and icy conditions hit hard

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When the National Weather Service upgraded its Feb. 9 forecast for Long Island to a blizzard warning, that meant that more snow would fall than originally predicted, and with winds expected to blow at 20 to 35 miles per hour, the day would be a travel nightmare.

We did end up seeing between 8 and 12 inches in our area and most people followed the directives from the county, the villages and the Town of Oyster Bay that warned residents that weather conditions warranted that they stay home. But some people were out early, including Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino.

“I greeted everyone at 4 a.m. as they prepared to deal with the storm on Thursday,” he said. “I thanked them. They were beaming because they were being appreciated.”

But Saladino had already met some of the workers the day before, as they prepared for the storm. “I jumped aboard a payloader yesterday,” he said on Thursday, “and I have to say, it responded very well. It handled like operating a big cabin cruiser in a tight spot, getting the boat into a slip.”

He added that he was excited to be leading the management of the first major snowstorm of the season as the supervisor. “I am in awe and impressed by the system used to prepare for the storm,” Saladino said.

A combination of salt and sand was applied to 820 lane miles of town roads late Wednesday night to prevent the formation of black ice under the snow that was projected to fall the next day. The town uses 180 pieces of equipment, which include plows, to battle a snowstorm. It takes seven to eight hours for a plow to make one pass. There are 210 town employees utilized in various capacities to manage storms.

Saladino said that no overtime was needed for the storm preparation on Wednesday, and that it would be used only if necessary during the storm.

By 5 a.m. Thursday, a heavy, wet snow, mixed with freezing rain, had begun to fall. Then the snow turned more powdery as temperatures dropped into the low 20s throughout the day. Snow fell at 3 inches per hour at times causing near whiteout conditions when combined with the powerful gusts of the wind.

The new supervisor is committed to changing how the town is run, and being a part of the snowstorm operations was but a first step, he said. Installed on Jan. 31, he’s ready to get to work.

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