News: Long Island’s Ice Storm Disasters
(Long Island, N.Y.)The ice storm of Tuesday night caused some of the worst damage seen on Long Island against all winter weather conditions. Over a half an inch of ice accumulations caused a multitude of accidents, power outages, tree collapses, ice floods, and transit complications. Those who thought Monday night’s snowfall was the worst that could happen to Long Island this week were not prepared for the havoc brought by freezing rain and black ice.
Over thirty car accidents were reported during the Wednesday morning commute in Nassau County between midnight and 9am. Nearly thirty more accidents were reported in Suffolk County during a five-hour span between 1pm and 6pm on Tuesday. In just an hour and a half, six accidents were reported west of Deer Park Avenue on the Northern State Parkway between 8pm-9:30pm.
The National Weather Service issued a caution to avoid travel for the first Ice Storm Warning in over fifteen years; it lasted until 9am on Wednesday morning. Over six hundred Long Island schools were closed, while some experienced a two-hour delayed start. All of the weather woes caused the fifteenth annual Groundhog’s Day festivities to be held indoors in Malverne; however the majority of groundhogs predicted an early Spring.
The Long Island Rail Road experienced a declaration of the highest weather alert, causing services to run according to a weekend schedule. Hundreds of extra staff was called to work overnight and service was cancelled to Long Island City and Hunterspoint Avenue. The Department of Transportation also hired overnight workers to salt key areas of transit.
The biggest challenge for railroad employees was the de-icing of the third rail. A stalled No 6. Subway caused New York City transit to be suspended; there were also delays and suspensions on Amtrak between New York and Philadelphia. Fifteen minute delays were reported for the Babylon line of the LIRR, and waiting rooms across Long Island were kept open past hours.
Over a thousand flights were cancelled and delayed between JFK, LaGuardia, and the rest of New York’s major airports. With the continual effects of poor weather conditions on flight schedules, many airlines have offered customers a two week period of refunding/rescheduling without a change in prices. Many travelers reported that this week’s ice storm caused nearly as much chaos and inconvenience for air transport as the Post-Christmas Blizzard.
Power failures on Long Island broke barriers as the Long Island Power Authority reported over nine thousand outages past seven o’clock this morning. Due to the extreme back up of widespread losses, LIPA claims to still be making assessments on the exact number of outages across the island. Con Edison reported a loss of power to nearly three hundred customers that are located mostly in Queens. The worst of Long Island’s outages were experienced in Nassau County, particularly in the towns of East Williston, Mineola, and North Valley Stream where there were over 1500 customers without power.
The Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway was closed near the Long Island Expressway exit due to flooding, and parts of Montauk Highway were closed from a water main breakage. The Robert Moses Causeway was closed when a tree came down, and Jericho Turnpike was shut down after electrical wires were exposed when a truck crashed into a utility pole. The Meadowbrook Parkway experienced an overturned vehicle delay and spinoffs on Sunrise Highway caused four two-car accidents within the hour between 6:30-7:30am.
Other storm-related accidents occurred when a North Lawrence homeless man burned to death after trying to light cooking fuel cans for warmth. A Westbury gas station canopy collapsed at seven o’clock this morning without any fatalities. A roof in Syosset collapsed on a house that was under construction, and a bus full of kindergarten kids was caught in a sinkhole in Wantagh.
The worst time to be on the roads seemed to occur between midnight and 2am. Conditions were especially bad on the North Shore of Long Island where severe weather conditions caused hill roads to be completely iced over. Cars risked the danger of sliding over massive patches of black ice on roadways, and in extreme cases, rolling down hilly streets.