Long Beach to declare snow emergency

City prepares for another major snowstorm, coastal flooding

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With all of Long Island under a Blizzard Watch from late Monday into Wednesday, the city of Long Beach said it is declaring a snow emergency as crews prepare to respond to the storm and temporary dunes are built along the shoreline. The district said all Long Beach schools are closed Tuesday. 

Forecasters at the National Weather Service are predicting 12 to 18 inches of snow and high winds for Nassau County as a powerful nor’easter sweeps into the area. If predictions hold true, the storm could become one of the biggest March snowstorms in recorded history.

In Long Beach, a snow emergency will be declared at 10 p.m. on Monday to allow residents to move their cars from the streets for snow removal vehicles, City Manager Jack Schnirman said.

“Sanitation is going to be suspended for tomorrow … and we ask [residents] to tie down outdoor furnishings and any construction materials [due to expected high winds],” he said. “We have 61 pieces of equipment ready to go. [Crews have] 300 tons of rock salt and 400 tons of sand and salt mix, and we’re going to be pre-salting main roads and we’ll get off to an early start and do our best to stay ahead of the storm.”

For safety reasons, crews will clear snow emergency routes first so that fire trucks, ambulances, buses and other essential vehicles can easily maneuver through the city. The emergency routes include West Beech Street, West Park Avenue, the west sides of Maryland Avenue and JJ Evans Boulevard, Shore Road and East Pine Street. Any vehicle parked on the emergency routes during a declared snow emergency will be towed at the owner’s expense. The city is advising residents not to park on bridges in the Canals, saying that it makes it difficult for snow removal vehicles. Visit the city's website for more information.

"We are encouraging residents to stay off the roads if possible, as driving conditions could be treacherous on Tuesday during the day," the city said in a statement. "If you must go out, we strongly encourage you to take public transit. While the shopper special and para-transit services will be suspended due to inclement weather, regularly scheduled bus service will operate normally at this time."

The period of greatest impact will likely be Tuesday, beginning with the morning commute and lasting through the evening, forecasters say. Town of Hempstead Supervisor Anthony Santino said that snow is expected to begin falling at 1 a.m. and urged residents to stay home.

“This appears to be the big one — this will be the one where we really need folks to plan tomorrow to take the day off,” Santino said at a press conference in Point Lookout on Monday, not far from where an Army Corps of Engineers is currently working on a coastal protection project for the barrier island.

“This is going to be a very involved snowstorm — we expect significant coastal flooding, we expect very high wind conditions and we expect a foot or more possibly of snow.

The most important thing folks can do tomorrow is stay home,” he added. “This is going to be a treacherous commute tomorrow morning. We will be working all day throughout the day to clear our streets, but it is likely that the evening commute isn’t going to be any better than the morning commute.”

A coastal flood warning is in effect from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, and moderate coastal flooding is expected during periods of high tide into Tuesday afternoon. Schnirman said that temporary dunes are being built at New York Avenue, National Boulevard and Long Beach Road.

In what could be a “difficult 24-hours,” Santino urged residents, especially those in coastal communities, to prepare for the storm and take the day off.

“I don’t think we’re looking at a situation where people have to evacuate,” he said. “If you have a car in a low-lying area, try to find a friend or a neighbor who lives up somewhere on higher ground and get the car there. If you have a storm drain shovel it while it snows to make sure that the water drains appropriately.”

He added that the town has 50,000 tons of rock salt on hand and that crews have been out in force since yesterday preparing roads throughout the town with snow-melting brine, and that more than 400 workers are ready to respond with about 300 pieces of equipment.

“Our crews will be out there plowing … to clear the over 1,200 miles of roadway that are in the Town of Hempstead … to make them possible as soon as we possibly can,” he told reporters. “Our conservation and waterways crews will be monitoring the coastal erosion; workers are securing boats at the town marinas …”

Santino also urged residents to prepare for the storm by stocking up on everything from flashlights and batteries to groceries and medication on Monday.

“Cars should be removed from town roadways,” he said, adding that residents should remove snow from fire hydrants and storm drains to prevent flooding. “Cars on the street, in an event like this, only impede town workers that are coming through here … with rather big plows.”

He also advised residents with health conditions to avoid shoveling snow and to stay away from any downed electrical wires and call 911 in an emergency.

“Please understand, this is going to be a heavy, heavy snowfall," he said. "It is going to take some time for streets to be cleared."

At press time, PSEG Long Island was busily preparing for the possibility of power outages. “PSEG Long Island takes storms of this forecasted magnitude seriously, and we proactively prepare and position our restoration workforce so our crews can begin work as soon as the conditions are safe,” said John O’Connell, PSEG-LI's vice president of transmission and distribution. “In addition to scheduling additional PSEG Long Island personnel and contractors to respond to outages, we have arranged for utility crews from other states to provide assistance in restoring customer outages that may result from the storm.”

PSEG-LI offered this advice to homeowners:

* Save PSEG Long Island’s 24-hour Electric Service number: (800) 490-0075.
* Follow PSEG Long Island on Facebook and Twitter for updates before, during and after the storm. Remember, though, that outages cannot be reported through Facebook.
* Downed wires should always be considered live. Do not approach or drive over a downed line and do not touch anything it might be in contact with. If a wire falls on or near your car, stay inside the car, call 911 and do not get out until PSEG Long Island de-energizes the line. If you must get out of the vehicle because it is on fire, jump as far as possible away from the vehicle, with both feet landing on the ground at the same time, and hop or shuffle away.
* Make sure everyone in the family is prepared and knows what to do if there is an emergency. Visit psegliny.com/page.cfm/Home/Safety to learn about safety tips from Sesame Street and YouTube videos.

More as this story develops.