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Bellone: Storm Will Be 'Treacherous'

Freezing temperatures and heavy winds will challenge cleanup crews, Suffolk Executive says.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone warns residents that Winter Storm Hercules will cause dangerous conditions. Photo by Amanda Lindner.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone warns residents that Winter Storm Hercules will cause dangerous conditions. Photo by Amanda Lindner.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone warned residents Thursday afternoon that the impending snowstorm, dubbed Winter Storm Hercules, would be no easy cleanup process as temperatures drop and winds pick up tonight.

“We are talking about darkness, extreme cold and winds gusting up to 40-miles-an-hour. That will make it very difficult for those plow operators to move at more than a snail’s pace in terms of operating that vehicle safely,” he told reporters at a press conference at the Department of Public Works facility in Commack. 

In comparison to last year’s February nor’easter, the amount of snow accumulation will be much less – forecasters predict between 6 and 10 inches Thursday night and Friday – but factors, including significant freezing temperatures and heavy winds into the night, will make this storm a difficult task to clean up.

“All of that together spells a very treacherous storm and we are advising people to do everything they can to get off of the roads as quickly as they can tonight,” Bellone said. “Stay indoors, stay inside.”

The county executive said that the lesson learned from Hurricane Sandy was that one can never be too prepared. He said that 60 vehicles were out early Thursday morning salting roadways. “We have more than 60,000 tons of salt, to be dispersed through nine different locations,” he said. There will also be close to 200 pieces of County equipment up and running on the roads, in addition to that of New York State and individual town and village vehicles. When the temperatures drop below the degree at which salt will be effective, he said that sand will be added to the mixture to create traction on the roads.

Winter Storm Hercules will be the first snowstorm under the direction of PSEG (Public Service Electric and Gas Company) after it officially took over the Long Island Power Authority Wednesday. Bellone said he is confident in PSEG to respond to Long Island’s electricity needs during and after the storm. 

“They have indicated - and I take them at their word- that they are prepared and ready to go,” he said.

Joe Williams, Commissioner of Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services, added that no warming shelters have been opened yet in the county, but that several spaces have been identified in case it becomes necessary.

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