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Let it Snow, Let it Snow

How Syosset deals with snow.

Okay, so now that we made it through to dump on Long Island in a decade, it seemed to have started an onslaught of sloppy weather with more snow expected Tuesday.

Is it just me or has Long Island snowstorms been increasing?   I’m certainly not a weather expert but in looking back over family photos, we have been getting more snow than ever these past few seasons.  That can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. It’s all about perception.

My kids Robert, Kelly and Melanie love playing in the snow. Our dog, Daisy, loves it too—built-in fur coat and all.  My husband and I don’t enjoy it so much—you know, shoveling!

Commuters most likely hate it and certainly the guys salting and sanding the roads have mixed feelings: both appreciating a job in this economy and yet tired from working long, endless shifts.

I like to think -- not that we’re locked up in the house all winter, not that we have to shovel yet again and not worrying about treacherous roads.  But, I like to think -- here’s my 38th winter here in Syosset and sometimes, late at night, as the snow clings in clumps on the trees, illuminated by moonlight – that snow is beautiful. 

I watch our children chase after Daisy crunching through the snow aligning footprints one set next to another dotted with doggie tracks and breath deeply.  They’re in the moment, peaceful and happy.  And life doesn’t get much better than that—happiness.

Snow is a major process from flake to slush, halting businesses, grounding flights.  Perception—is the glass half full or half empty?

So, I talked to other folks to get a different perspective. 

The (TOBAY) says the 800 miles of road under their jurisdiction are cut into 17 areas.  Syosset is considered area 14, 15 and part of 18 near Plainview.

Within those areas, TOBAY classifies some “priority roads” which are main roads that cut through towns.  These are first on the list and second are parking lots of stores, schools or houses of worship.

Richard Betz, Commissioner of Highways for TOBAY, is a self-proclaimed weather junkie who follows storms on the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website and talked about snow with me recently. 

“Syosset’s priority roads are: South Woods Road, South Oyster Bay Road, Woodbury Road, Ira Road, Cold Spring Road,” Betz said.

With support from the Parks Department and the Sanitation Department, during a storm like the recent blizzard that’s at full-tilt, TOBAY had 300 vehicles on the roads.  Town employees worked ‘round the clock starting at noon Sunday and were released late Monday night.

Snow removal techniques are temperature driven—straight salt is great to melt snow until it hits the lower 20s, then salt doesn’t melt as well.  “We switch to a sand/salt mix.  The typography in Syosset is fairly hilly with roads like Uphill Drive. We mix sand and salt for traction,” Betz said.

Truth be known, the hilly areas get first priority then come the flatter roads.  Trucks will then dig into the internal neighborhoods and further into dead-ends and cul-de-sacs.

Betz says TOBAY starts to plow when the snow piles up to 2 or 2 ½ inches.    “It really depends on the storm," he said. "If you have a lot of wind and the storm comes down fast, we might only plow once. “ 

But Betz added: “During the recent blizzard, we plowed Southwoods Road like five or six times, going from curb to curb," he said.  "Then we had 16-mile-an-hour winds blowing off the golf course and it looked like we never touched it.”

What about those highways?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) maintains major roads.   In Syosset, that includes Route 135 and Jericho Tpke. (25) and Northern Blvd. (25A), where crews drive daily patrols and the office makes sure to update the information signs along the highways. 

DOT public information representative, Eileen Peters explained: “the DOT has six major maintenance yards with three to six sub-yards, each addressing issues on the road and keeping them clear," she said. 

Peters says in a large storm, up to 350 men are out there in 190 pieces of equipment (plows and spreaders) moving mounds of snow.

  “We’re open 24 / 7 maintaining 5,300 lane miles across Long Island,” Peters said. When I asked about Tuesday’s expected snow, Peters answered, “We’re ready.”

So are  How do you feel about the snow?                

TL January 10, 2011 at 10:39 PM
Interesting to understand the operations behind it. For me, it seems everyone has a sense of calmless and working together and helping each other during these storms. Shoveling for elderly neighbors, moving stuck cars, etc. And a childlike good feeling seeing the white stuff come down. 3-6" is enough for that though, I don't think we need 12+. It seems like we've had more really really big storms in recent years than ever before. Take it from someone who hasn't bought a snowblower.
JE January 15, 2011 at 01:22 AM
The streets are well taken care of, but same can't be said for our sidewalks. Without laws like NYC it seems many simply ignore snow piled high on sidewalks for weeks. Where I live, driveways are swept clear, but children are walking to school right along with traffic through the streets, and waiting for buses while standing in the middle of the street, because most residents have chosen not to clear their sidewalks at all.

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