By Jano Tantongco
Despite a westward shift, Winter Storm Stella is expected to disrupt Tuesday’s morning commute and create “treacherous” conditions, Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone said, with predicted snowfall totals ranging 6-14 inches, and wind gusts reaching 55 mph. Ahead of the storm a snow emergency has been declared for the Town of Huntington.
Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone announced earlier this evening that the snow emergency effective for 12:01 a.m., March 14. With that, all of the town’s Tuesday activities and scheduled meetings at town facilities have been cancelled. The Huntington Town Board meeting scheduled for 2 p.m Tuesday has been rescheduled for Tuesday, March 21, 2 p.m.
“The forecasts are calling for a major storm with blizzard-like conditions that will start overnight and continue throughout the day, making travel difficult,” Petrone said in a news release.
Suffolk Executive Steven Bellone said in a media conference call Monday that the storm is “potentially dangerous given the conditions that are expected.”
The nor’easter is expected to descend on Suffolk around 3 a.m. and continue well into Tuesday afternoon and evening, forecasts show.
“The real concern with tomorrow morning is that we’re looking at very high winds. When you combine that with a heavy rate of snowfall, that is creating essentially whiteout conditions that are difficult for anyone to be operating,” Bellone said.
He advised residents not to travel unless they “absolutely have to.”
Bellone added that there are concerns of coastal flooding and erosion, but mainly on the South Shore. Asked about the North Shore, including Huntington, Northport and Asharoken, Bellone said there’s “not as much concern with those areas.”
“But obviously that’s something we’ll continue to take a look at as the storm track moves forward,” he added.
Bellone encouraged residents to sign up for the county’s Code Red Emergency Notification System, which will send out updates via text notifications.
The county has 17,000 tons of salt on hand, with 170 pieces of snow removal equipment and access to another 175 contractor vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Huntington Highway Superintendent Peter Gunther said he has 74 plows and 10 payloaders ready, and another 42 plows from other town departments, as well as 177 private vendors on standby.
The plan of attack includes starting with applying salt, brine and sand mixtures to town roadways, Gunther said. Once 3 inches of snow is on the ground, plows will begin their work, he added.
Crews would begin work at 2 a.m., with the superintendent on the front lines, he said.
“I stay with all the men and women. I don’t go home. I stay with them as a sign of support and leadership,” Gunther said.
Huntington’s Tuesday residential trash collection is cancelled. Commercial pickups are still scheduled for businesses in Huntington village and Huntington Station that have evening curbside collection.
The town’s HART Bus paratransit and fixed route service are also cancelled.