By Christine Sampson
The National Weather Service has upgraded its winter storm warning to a blizzard warning for a three-hour period beginning at 3 a.m. Thursday.
The most recent forecast says southeastern Suffolk County can expect 10 to 14 inches of snow with temperatures dropping into the 20s and wind gusts up to 45 miles per hour. Visibility on the road is expected to be a quarter-mile or less.
Wednesday’s weather was unusually balmy before the National Weather Service issued the blizzard warning at 3:17 p.m.
“A blizzard warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring,” the agency said. “Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities are likely. This will lead to whiteout conditions, making travel extremely dangerous. Do not travel. If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you. If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle.”
Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor encouraged residents to stay home during the storm.
“We’d prefer that people use this beautiful day during daylight hours to do their errands, get their shopping done, fill their prescriptions and then try to stay off the roads tomorrow,” he said Wednesday.
Mr. Gregor said the storm is expected to start with rain before changing over to snow about 10 p.m, with wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour. “It’s going to be a real mess,” he said.
In the Sag Harbor School District, administrators are keeping their eyes on the weather forecast and making plans to reschedule school activities. They have consulted officials in other schools, too.
“It’s warm out, but what we know about warmth is that there’s a lot of moisture,” Sag Harbor school superintendent Katy Graves said Wednesday. “We don’t want to get luxurious and think that warmth means there’s going to be rain. That’s me being a scientist.”
If the snow causes a school closure on Thursday, the performance of the Pierson Middle School musical, “The Little Mermaid,” will be rescheduled to a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee show. The Sag Harbor Elementary School science fair, sports games and other happenings will also be rescheduled to future dates.
“We put those plans in motion when we saw the weather coming on Tuesday morning,” Ms. Graves said. “Those plans will go out with the cancelation so parents can be informed with the next steps. … We’ll start making decisions probably at the end of the school day today into the evening. It’s moved now from a watch into a warning, and that means we’re on high alert.”
Bridgehampton School District superintendent Lois Favre said her district is also monitoring the weather in concert with other schools.
“At this time, we are watching and waiting,” she said in an email Wednesday. “We will decide later today if it is in our best interest to call a delay until morning – and see how the storm emerges, to then determine, tomorrow morning, if closing is in our best interest. Fortunately, it has been an easy winter so far – so we have the days if needed.”
A Sag Harbor Village representative said Wednesday that officials will decide by noon on Thursday whether to postpone the meeting of the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review, which is set for 5 p.m. that day.
Southampton Town has canceled its town board work session initially planned for 10 a.m. on Thursday, and has announced Town Hall and all town offices will be closed on Thursday. Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said in an email “employees designated as essential” must report to work and will receive instructions from their supervisors.
The Sag Harbor School District has canceled its special board of education meeting scheduled for Thursday evening.