Route 58 in Riverhead during a blizzard on Jan 23, 2016.File photo: Peter Blasl

(Updated: 3:22 p.m.) A powerful Nor’easter packing damaging winds and heavy snow is slamming the region, pounding Long Island Sound beaches and dumping many inches of snow across the North Fork. Coastal roadways are becoming flooded and interior roads, especially north-south roads in the town’s central farm belt, are drifting over and becoming impassable. (Photos)

Riverhead highway crews have been struggling to keep town roads open all morning. Their efforts have been hampered by motorists venturing out into the storm and becoming stuck in snow drifts.

The National Weather Service increased its forecast snow accumulations for northeastern Suffolk County to a total of 18 to 24 inches by the time the storm ends early tomorrow morning. The south shore  of Long Island and New York City may get up to 30 inches of snow, according to the forecast.Northeast winds of 30 to 35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph are expected.

A blizzard warning remains in effect until 7 a.m. tomorrow. Heavy snowfall rates and blowing snow will cause whiteout conditions at times, making travel extremely dangerous.

Conditions prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York City and on Long Island this morning. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone declared a state of emergency in Suffolk County and Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter declared a state of emergency in Riverhead Town.

Storm surge and rough seas batter a Wading River beach.

Posted by RiverheadLOCAL on Saturday, January 23, 2016

 

The powerful storm will cause multiple episodes of coastal flooding during high tide cycles today and tonight. There is also potential for significant coastal erosion from strong surf in the Long Island Sound.

“Anyone that lives on the bluff along the north shore should monitor the situation very carefully,” the supervisor said. “There has already been erosion of the coastline and there are a number of homes in Wading River that are in jeopardy.” The supervisor said he knocked on doors along the beach in Wading River this morning to discuss the situation with residents. “I’m not ordering any evacuations, but I wanted to make sure they are aware of the situation and monitor it. Tonight’s high tide could be dangerous.”

The full moon has increased the tide and storm surge. Coastal roads flooded during the morning high tide cycle. Creek Road was shut down due to about 3 feet of standing water on the roadway, according to Riverhead Highway Superintendent Gio Woodson. Portions of Sound Road in Wading River and Meetinghouse Creek Road in Aquebogue flooded over with the rising tide as well.

All nonemergency travel is prohibited during the state of emergency, Walter said.

Residents are directed to remove parked vehicles from streets so that plow trucks can operate safely and efficiently. Riverhead Police will be issuing tickets to parked vehicles that remain on town streets, Walter said.

Suffolk County transit bus service is suspended today. The LIRR is still running with “good service” on the Ronkonkoma line, but delays are being reported on the Montauk and Port Jefferson lines. Train service may be suspended or cancelled, according to the LIRR. Getting to a train station by car will be hazardous, officials warn.

If you must travel, bring a fully charged cell phone and a winter survival kit with you, police said. If your vehicle gets stuck, stay in the vehicle and call police.

Volunteer firefighters and EMS and standing by at their headquarters to respond to emergency calls.

Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead  is open and fully operational, PBMC president and CEO Andrew Mitchell said in a statement issued at 3:05 p.m.  The PBMC  urgent care center in Manorville  is now closed, he said.

The hospital has operated intermittently on emergency generator power due to periodic power outages, he said.

PSEG-LI has been reporting scattered power outages across the island all day today. As of 3 p.m. there were 568 customers without power in the Town of Riverhead and 84 customers without power in Southold.

See local closings and cancellations here.

For live local radar and real-time forecasts, advisories and warnings, visit the RiverheadLOCAL weather page.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.