Long Island Blizzard: Round 2
The National Weather Service issued a near twenty-four hour Winter Storm Warning from 7 p.m. Tuesday to 6 p.m. yesterday for Long Island and NYC. This blizzard, the second to hit Long Island in weeks, caused less damaged than the first. The difference between these storms, according to Suffolk County Executive, Steve Levy: the winds.
In this “secondary” blizzard, wind speeds were roughly 10mph, less than a third of the speed of those to bombard the Island in December. As Levy explained, the 35 mph winds of the Dec. 26 “Post-Christmas Blizzard” blew plowed snow onto the roads, virtually negating the clearing process. Though some parts of Suffolk received up to eighteen inches in this week’s blizzard, the plows were successful this time around. In this storm, there were 350 workers and nearly 200 plows used to combat the elements, which is comparatively fewer than last month’s blizzard.
Though the costs for December’s blizzard haven’t been assessed, it was estimated that $750k was spent on snow removal in the town of Huntington alone. In the December blizzard of 2009, Suffolk County spent well over $1 million while Nassau spent $900k. Even though nothing has been calculated to date, it’s safe to say that the costs for this week’s blizzard are projected to be a fraction of those amounts.
The East-End received considerably more snow than Nassau County and Western Long Island. Nonetheless, the heavy drifts and snowfall were enough for Levy to call a State of Emergency in Suffolk County at 5 am yesterday morning. It lasted for twelve hours, giving Levy the ability to close roads if needed. Though roads were kept clear for public usage, 63 crashes were reported in Suffolk, and nearly 50 cars were found disabled on roadways.
There was good and bad in the aftermath of this week’s blizzard; flights and trains were cancelled and delayed, but power outages were kept minimal throughout the Island. This time around, there weren’t any stories of commuters getting stranded on platforms. In NYC, progress was clearly made in the towing department; only thirty cars were taken from city roads and not a single ambulance was prevented from reaching those in need of service.
In an effort to lean on the side of safety, most schools were closed in Suffolk County. Earlier today, Levy held a press conference to discuss weather conditions and the progress made against the storm. Levy, the seventh executive of Suffolk County, has gained considerable attention in 2010 from the media for leaving the Democratic Party and running as a Republican in order to receive the nomination for governor.
While Long Island’s response to this week’s blizzard was quite exemplary, the ongoing controversy in NYC has many New Yorkers anxious over how the mayor will react to yesterday’s storm. The hearing that took place on Monday, Jan. 10th has kept the public eye on Mayor Bloomberg’s team of commissioners, including the head of OEM, Joseph Bruno. The Office of Emergency Management, under the direct authority of the mayor, called for a “weather emergency” for the first time in NYC.
The policy of a weather emergency is less imperative than a snow emergency, but it is effective in demonstrating public warning. The last snow emergency to be declared in NYC was in 2005.
It’s safe to say that many NYC drivers took the direction of the mayor and kept off the roads, allowing the plows to complete the clearing process smoothly. It’s unclear how much progress made since last week’s disaster resulted from the points of the hearing or from the reduction of severity in this week’s storm.