A November Nor’easter blanketed much of Long Island in snow, forced the Long Island Rail Road to temporarily suspend all train service Wednesday evening and added more blacked out homes and businesses to those still in the dark 11 days after Hurricane Sandy.
The storm, dubbed Athena, dumped up to 5 inches of snow on parts of LI on Wednesday evening with lesser accumulations on the East End. The National Weather Service forecast the snow will turn to rain before tapering off Thursday, but roads will remain slick. The Long Island Expressway was temporarily closed in both directions at exit 40 due to icing Wednesday night.
LIPA, which had said it would have power returned by sundown Wednesday to 90 percent of their 1.1 million customers, had 175,000 outages when Athena hit, excluding about 100,000 more in the hardest-hit areas of Long Beach, Fire Island and the Rockaways. LIPA said another 60,000 customers lost power in the nor’easter, bringing their tally to more than 205,000.
The LIRR didn’t fare much better. Downed trees and other weather-related equipment problems forced the commuter railroad to suspend service system-wide from 6-7 p.m., the height of the rush hour. Limited eastbound service eventually returned and the LIRR said it’s back to its post-Sandy modified schedule as of 5 a.m. Thursday.
Service remains suspended on the Long Beach Branch, where buses replace trains between Lynbrook and Island Park. Two of the four East River tunnels that the LIRR shares with NJ Transit and Amtrack are still out of service since being flooded in the historic storm surge last week.
A Long Beach city spokesman told The Associated Press that the storm-ravaged community was spared additional serious damage, although there was some minor flooding on the bay side of the barrier island. New York State officials were concerned that debris from Sandy would become projectiles in the nor’easter’s wind gusts.
Athena struck 10 days after Sandy destroyed an estimated 100,000 homes and businesses on LI, caused the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant to fail, led to the deaths of at least 11 Long Islanders and caused three barrier breaches, including two on FI and one in Westhampton.