Winter Storm Precipitated Icy Roads, Power Outages, School Closures

Michele Marks and her mom Jacqueline make snow angels in front of their Bay Point home during the snowstorm on Monday. MICHAEL HELLER

Television meteorologists started to get amped about Monday’s nor’easter last Friday, January 29. By Tuesday, they were already looking ahead to a new storm forecast for the coming weekend.

The first of the season with significant snowfall, the storm slammed into the East End during the predawn hours on Monday morning. By mid-morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo had declared a state of emergency in New York City and nine other counties, including Nassau and Suffolk, on Long Island.

He urged people to stay off the roads and “get where you’re going before noon, and expect to remain home for some time”

Described as a “long duration event,” the storm lasted through Monday and prompted some school closures Tuesday morning. Sag Harbor, Westhampton, Tuckahoe, and Remsenburg-Speonk districts closed, while others went to full remote learning. By Wednesday morning, Bridgehampton and Montauk Schools were among those looking at two hour delayed openings.

The National Weather Service reported snowfall totals that included 7.2 in East Hampton. Southampton Town saw totals of between about 6 or 7 inches on the east end of the Town, to as high as perhaps 10 or 11 inches on the west end, Ryan Murphy, the town’s Emergency Management Administrator reported.

Overall, the South Fork weathered the weather well.

In East Hampton Town, by noon on Monday, Police Chief Michael Sarlo reported: “There are some slippery spots out there, as the highway crews work to stay ahead of the accumulation.”

Because the snow could turn to rain and freeze, he said at the time, “We are asking people to still limit travel to essential, as visibility and high winds are also contributing to difficult conditions. We are also anticipating flooding at the high tides, particularly try to avoid Gerard Drive and other similar coastal flood zones.” Town Hall offices were closed Monday.

There were seven car accidents reported in the town throughout the storm’s duration, the chief said, and Gerard Drive washed over and was impassible Monday night.

Coastal flooding also closed Dune Road from the Ponquogue Bridge to Westhampton Beach, Southampton Town Police Chief Steve Skrynecki reported Monday afternoon, as snow continued to fall across the South Fork.

All other roads were open and passable, he said, but the snowfall volume was making it difficult for plows to keep the roads clear.

“We are asking people to stay at home for the next few hours as roads are slick, visibility is poor and to move cars from the street if they are in the street to allow plows to clear the roads,” he wrote in an email on Monday.

Twenty-four hours later, on Tuesday, Chief Sarlo reported numerous tree limbs down and road hazard calls, temporary power outages Monday night mostly in Springs, some coastal flooding and erosion.

“It seems the storm path rotated a bit and we were fortunate not to have a major accumulation,” he said via email message.

Power outages across the South Fork were reported on the PSEG map. In East Hampton Town, the PSEG interactive map listed some 20 scattered outages — in Montauk, Napeague, Amagansett, Wainscott, and the Northwest Woods — for a total of 493 customers affected.

In Southampton Town, Mr Murphy reported that 518 customers experienced power outages townwide on Monday. In Bridgehampton, 167 households were without power, 110 customers in East Quogue reported outages, 131 homes were without power in North Sea and 63 customers in Water Mill were in the dark.

On Monday alone, members of the Southampton Fire Department responded to a small brush fire caused by downed wires on Cold Spring Point Road in North Sea, a telephone pole down with a power outage in Shinnecock Hills and an accident with injuries they came upon on Country Road 39 while returning from a fire alarm on Hill Station Road. They were called to a home in Water Mill, where three occupants were suffering minor carbon monoxide exposure and had to be transported to the hospital. “It was a busy day,” the department’s public information officer, Chris Brenner Sr. summarized.