Town officials concerned about variability, length of latest winter storm


Although snowfall gave way to rain and sleet at midday Thursday, Town of Hempstead crews were anticipating working into the night to battle what officials described as a long and constantly changing winter storm.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said that at least six inches of snow blanketed communities across the area Thursday morning, with rain beginning to fall town-wide at around noon. But the precipitation was predicted to shift back to snow in several hours, Murray added, and town officials did not expect the storm to end until 4 or 5 a.m. on Friday.

Murray declared a snow emergency early Thursday. At that point, town crews had already been out for hours, laying down a layer of salt and plowing local roadways.

During the early stages of the storm, the greatest challenge plow crews faced, Murray said, was the rate at which snow was falling. This became apparent to her, she said, as she shoveled near her Levittown home: after clearing snow from her property at 7 a.m. on Thursday morning, she said she was shocked to discover that at least another five inches had fallen on the areas she had cleared away in just two hours’ time.

“I was stunned,” she said. “I don’t know if I've ever seen snow come down in such a short period of time at such a rate.”

While the afternoon rainfall may bring down snow totals, Murray said that the change in precipitation presents other problems. With temperatures dropping later in the day, officials said they are concerned about icing on local roadways.
Murray said all town roads would be re-salted to prevent slippery conditions. Plows will also be out throughout the day, as officials expected snow to begin again Thursday night.

“The concern is simply the length and duration of the storm,” Murray said. “This is an extraordinarily long period of time to have precipitation. We’ll continue to monitor the situation, but our crews will be out there until the last flakes are falling.”

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