(Updated 7:35 p.m.): In a special weather statement, the National Weather Service said bands of heavy snow moving across Suffolk County could result in near-blizzard conditions with snowfall rates of two to three inches per hour and northeast winds gusting to 35 to 40 mph.
All but essential travel is discouraged tonight, the weather service said.
Riverhead Central School District announced a two-hour delayed opening tomorrow morning. Pre-care and morning kindergarten are canceled.
On a day that saw rain, sleet, hail, strong winds and even a few rumbles of thunder, snow finally began falling in Riverhead late this afternoon.
It was snowing in Wading River about two hours before rain and sleet changed to snow in Riverhead, Highway Superintendent George Woodson said. Roads on the east end of town were still clear as of about 4:30.
Highway crews have been out sanding roads on the west end of town, he said.
Falling temperatures and snow following today’s rain are combining to make travel treacherous this evening. As roads iced up, multiple car accidents began to occur, with several vehicles skidding off roadways, some hitting utility poles. Most were minor and so far only one crash resulted in an injury requiring ambulance transport to the hospital. Crashes occurred on Sound Avenue, Route 25A, Hulse Landing Road, Route 58 and Route 105.
“People need to slow down,” Woodson said. “If you drive slow you’ll be all right. If you want to drive like the roads are not covered by snow and ice, you’re going to have a problem.”
The National Weather Service forecast is calling for snow, rain and sleet to continue tonight, with total accumulations in Riverhead of one to three inches. A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 4 a.m. tomorrow. The weather advisory says two to six inches of snow is possible.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith has declared a Winter Storm Event, requiring all residents to remove parked vehicles from the streets, effective at 8 p.m.
“If you must drive tonight, reduce your speed,” Riverhead Town Police said in a press release.
“Winds will be 25 to 35 mph with some higher gusts possible. Power outages are possible due to the strong winds and falling tree limbs causing downed power lines. Remember to stay away from all downed lines, treat them as energized and call 911,” police said.