Stacking the deck for coming storm – Metro US

Stacking the deck for coming storm

Unlike their New York City counterparts, Long Islanders rely heavier on car travel — and depend greatly upon having cleared roads during a snowy commute. Today, emergency workers have their fingers crossed that the 7 to 14 inches of snow expected in Long Island starts falling tonight and doesn’t snarl the evening journey home.

“We’re getting ready,” said Kate Grilli-Robles, spokeswoman for Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano — who led a conference call yesterday afternoon with the police, the county’s Office of Emergency Management and public works to prepare for the impending storm.

Suffolk County, meanwhile, has 125 snow plows and pickups with plows ready to go for the storm, said Gil Anderson, county commissioner of public works.

The heaviest snow is expected to fall after midnight tonight, so if Long Island gets hit hard, “More of the concern will be [tomorrow] morning, for those people who do go into work,” said Anderson.

But once it starts coming down, Long Island Rail Road crews hustle to keep snow off the tracks and trains moving. LIRR crews must heat track switches by hand with a flame, in order to keep the tracks warm and helps prevent them from freezing.

“If the switch freezes, then the train can’t switch tracks,” said LIRR spokesman Sal Arena. “It’s especially important in Jamaica, where 10 branches converge.”

LIRR’s newest piece of snow-fighting equipment is two high-velocity blowers, which blow the snow off the tracks at 525 miles an hour. Diesel locomotives are also outfitted with snow brooms on the front of the trains to push snow away as the train moves.