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Updated Forecast: Fierce Blizzard To Slam Long Island Around 6 p.m.

Drifts of up to a foot, plunging temperatures and fierce winds are expected across Long Island as a blizzard blasts the area.

A blizzard that's expected to bury Long Island Thursday night could bring up to a foot of snow and frigid temperatures, experts said Thursday.

According to Joe Pollina, meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Upton, eight to 10 inches of snow are expected to pile up across Long Island, with frigid wind gusts of up to 45 miles per hour. Drifting could cause accumulation of over a foot.

Heavy snow is expected to slam the area from 6 p.m. Thursday through 1 p.m. Friday, with the heaviest snow slated for 7 p.m.

In order to be called a blizzard, wind gusts need to reach at least 35 per hour, with visibility of a quarter-mile or less. A blizzard warning is in effect through 1 p.m. Friday., with blowing snow and strong winds, in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

The storm could spark some widespread minor coastal flooding and some moderate coastal flooding in low-lying areas. A coastal flood warning is in effect from 9 p.m. Thursday until 2 a.m. Friday in northwestern Suffolk and northern Nassau County. 

The massive weather event, Pollina said, is caused by the convergence of a two major storms, one over the Great Lakes and one over the Gulf states, that will redevelop offshore into one powerhouse snowfall for Long Island.

Mother Nature's blast is expected to break records. In Islip, for example, the record snowfall for Thursday is three inches and Friday, 2.1. "Those records are in jeopardy," Pollina said.

And, while Long Island snowfall is expected to stop by 1 p.m. on Friday, temps will still be icy over the weekend, with highs in the upper teens across the area on Friday. Temperatures will be a bit higher on the North and South Forks, with highs in the 20s.

Lows across Long Island are expected to plunge to either side of zero, with a low of 10 degrees forecast for Montauk on Friday.

"In the Pine Barrens, typically the coldest spot, we're expecting minus five degree temperatures," Pollina said. "It's going to be very cold."
Whiteout conditions could make travel extremely dangerous, he added.

The American Red Cross Offers the Following Tips Ahead of the Storm (Source: Red Cross)

COLD WEATHER/WINTER STORM – Temperatures are expected to drop as conditions deteriorate throughout our region. People should take the following steps:

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information on snow storms and blizzards from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain, snow or dense fog.
  • If travel is necessary, make sure you have a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle which includes: shovel, blanket, flashlight, water, snacks, first aid kit, extra batteries, sack of sand or cat litter.
  • Keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
  • When shoveling snow, take frequent breaks to avoid risk of injury or cardiac arrest.
  • Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
  • Bring pets inside during winter weather.
  • Make sure coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and warm clothing are available for all household members, along with extra blankets.
  • Eat regular meals and stay hydrated, but avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

HOME HEATING SAFETY Heating fires are the second leading cause of home fires.                         

  • Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
  • Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away fro m space heaters.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.  

POWER OUTAGE – If the power goes out, people should:

  • Use flashlights for light, not candles.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Check refrigerated food for spoilage and if in doubt, throw it out. Your refrigerator will keep cold for about 4 hours. If the freezer is full, it will keep its temperature for about 48 hours.
  • Have coolers on hand and surround your food with ice in the cooler or refrigerator to keep food cold for a longer period of time. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment and any appliances, equipment or electronics to avoid damaging them when the power is restored.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel as traffic lights will be out and roads congested.
  • Watch animals and keep them under your direct control.
USING A GENERATOR – If someone is planning to use a generator, never use it indoors, including in a garage, carport, basement, crawlspace or other area, even with ventilation. Generators put off carbon monoxide fumes, which can be deadly.
Karen January 02, 2014 at 08:53 PM
Just a dusting in East Meadow by 8:30 pm. I assume the worst is yet to come.

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