Winter doesn’t officially get here until Monday, but the East End can expect to see its first snowfall Wednesday evening into Thursday afternoon as a nor’easter, spawned from a low-pressure system in the Atlantic Ocean, rolls through the region.
Wind gusts of up to 55 mph are expected as well, according to the National Weather Service.
While the weather service on Monday was calling for 4 to 6 inches of snow to blanket the South Fork, by Thursday afternoon, it had revised that forecast, calling for only 3 to 5 inches overnight Wednesday in Southampton and 3 to 7 inches in East Hampton. Another inch is forecast for both towns on Thursday.
The storm is expected to bring snow late Wednesday evening that will change over to a wintry mix of snow, sleet, and rain as the temperature rises to 38 degrees.
Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor said on Monday that crews, which are still in the process of collecting leaves from roadsides, were busy putting plows on trucks and making sure salt and sand spreaders are working properly.
“It’s supposed to be a fast-moving storm with mostly rain,” he said. The Highway Department, which typically pre-treats roads with a brine mixture to prevent ice from forming, will not be doing that this week, he said, because of the likelihood that rain would simply wash it away.
“We will have people out monitoring the situation,” he added, “and if it gets slippery we’ll hit the roads with salt, and if we need to, we’ll drop the plows.”
He said with gusty winds expected, homeowners and motorists should be alert for falling tree limbs and encouraged people to call the Highway Department during business hours or the Town Police after normal business hours to report hazardous conditions.
Whatever form it takes, precipitation is expected to be heavy at times overnight on Wednesday. Winds out of the northeast will rise from 21 to 26 mph to 31 to 36 mph during the night. Gusts of up to 55 mph are also expected.
Thursday morning, South Fork residents can expect a mix of snow and rain turning to all snow after 9 a.m., but minimal accumulations of only an inch. Thursday will remain windy, with gusts of 40 to 43 mph. The temperature will fall to 30 degrees on Thursday, but the wind chill factor will make it feel like 20 to 25 degrees.
After the storm blows through, Friday and Saturday are expected to be mostly sunny with highs in the upper 30s.
East Hampton Highway Superintendent Steve Lynch said his crews were also ready. “We could get nothing or we could get 6 to 8 inches,” he said. “Prepare for the worst and pray for the best.”
PSEG-Long Island, which has been criticized for its response to storm damage in the past, insisted in a release that it would be well prepared and would bring in extra crews to supplement its own.
In anticipation of the storm, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital said it would close COVID-19 testing sites at Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays and at the hospital’s Parrish Memorial Hall at noon on Wednesday. The testing site at Parrish Memorial Hall as well as one at East Hampton High School will be closed on Thursday.