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Weathering the storm: No emergencies from the blizzard

Shelter Island Highway Department crews finally got some sleep when roads were cleared of snow around 9 p.m. last night, their first extended shut-eye since Friday evening.

“We all went home and got a good night’s sleep,” Highway Superintendent Brian Sherman said early Sunday morning.

When the sun rose on beautiful winter landscapes across Shelter Island, all roads had been cleared and sanded, Mr. Sherman said. Today will be a day of pushing snow that drifted into roads.

(Credit: Adam Bundy)

The storm met blizzard conditions set by the National Weather Service of winds reaching 35 mph or more, with less than a quarter-mile visibility for over three hours. It dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of the Island, with drifts up to three feet, driven by a fierce wind that gusted up to 49 mph, recorded by North Ferry Manager Bridg Hunt at the Shelter Island terminal.

For a nor’easter this intense, it was in some ways remarkable that PSEG reported no power outages and there were no emergencies. Fire Chief Anthony Reiter reported Sunday morning that his department had only one call last night, for a CO alarm  at a residence on Charlie’s Lane, but it was a false alarm, and no danger to anyone.

There were no ambulance calls, said EMT Mark Kanarvogel of the Emergency Medical Services on Sunday morning.

During the winter, the ambulance crews will get “slip and falls” he said, but during and after snowstorms there are usually very few calls of any kind for medical assistance.

“People on Shelter Island have a New England attitude,” Mr. Kanarvogel said. “They look out the window and say, ‘Mmm, let’s see. I’ve got a can of soup and a loaf of bread. I’m not going out in this.’”

The Highway Department will be digging out Town buildings in the Center today, Mr. Sherman said, “So they’ll be ready to go Monday morning.”

There will be bright sunshine today, according to the NWS, but it will stay cold, with a high temperature of about 27 degrees. It will be windy, but not as fierce as the last two days, with Sunday bringing winds out of the west up to 18 mph, with wind chill values between 5 below zero to 5 above.

Tonight the temperatures drop to 18 degrees, and the beginning of the work week Monday will be another sunny day with a high temperature right around the freezing mark of 32 degrees.

For those who will be digging themselves out today, remember that shoveling can be particularly dangerous at times during and after snowstorms.

Nationwide, shoveling is responsible for about 11,500 injuries annually — about 100 of which are fatal — according to data analyzed in a 2019 Washington Post story.

The NWS said it’s important to follow proper shoveling technique and follow tips such as to drink water, wear warm boots and breathable clothes and to push snow rather than lift.

If you get dug out, the American Automobile Association has some advice:

• Stay home. Only go out if necessary. Even if you can drive well in bad weather, it’s better to avoid taking unnecessary risks by venturing out.

• Drive slowly. Always adjust your speed downward to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.

• Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stop light. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.

• Increase your following distance to five to six seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.

• Know your brakes. Whether you have anti-lock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.

• Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.

• Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads will just make your wheels spin. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.

• Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.

(Credit: Adam Bundy)