NY battered by high winds, blanketed in heavy snow from nor'easter

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Kristin Thorne has more on conditions in Suffolk County.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York was battered by high winds and blanketed in heavy snow Saturday as a nor'easter moved up the East Coast, with the eastern end of Long Island bearing the brunt of the storm.

Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency, and residents across the state were urged to stay inside.

The National Weather Service confirmed across Suffolk County. The three criteria for a blizzard are blowing or falling snow, winds of at least 35 miles per hour, and visibility of a quarter mile or less for at least three hours.

MORE | How much snow has fallen in NYC and the Tri-State area

The big message from officials was to stay home, but if you must travel, extra precautions must be taken amid potentially life-threatening conditions.

A crash involving two tractor trailers closed all lanes on I-95 southbound between Exits 16 and 17 in New Rochelle.

The extent of any injuries is unknown.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said that a plow driver found an elderly woman unconscious in a car at the Marriot Hotel parking lot in Uniondale.

She was pronounced dead at the hospital, and preliminarily it appears she suffered a medical emergency, possibly a heart attack.

Meanwhile, an elderly man drowned after falling into a pool while shoveling snow in Cutchogue on Saturday, according to police.

WATCH | Steve Bellone gives updates on conditions in Suffolk County

Snow totals reached as much as 22 inches in Suffolk County and at least 11 inches on Howard Beach in Queens by Saturday evening.

Stacey Sager reports from Nassau County:

In New York City, city-run vaccine clinics were closed, alternate side parking was suspended, there is was outdoor dining, public libraries were closed, Citi Bike service was suspended, and the New York Boat Show was canceled. The Islanders game against the Seattle Kraken at UBS Arena was also postponed.

Plows worked hard into the day clearing as much snow as they could. Roadways in the city remained snowy and slushy, but MTA buses were running.

Even Mayor Eric Adams spent the day shoveling and he made a promise to visit all five boroughs to determine their needs during this storm, even saluting the city's hardworking sanitation workers. He says he wanted to make sure the city was open.

"We don't shut down like other cities. You know, for the most part we keep going we still have to the delivery of goods and services," Adams said. "Supermarkets must open. People need to have our hospital facility there's many options that keep the city running they use public transportation. And so having our system keep running and operating and we know there are some shortages of city wide is but there's not a shutdown."

Naveen Dhaliwal has the latest from Bryant Park

The Long Island Rail Road suspended service on all branches, and service is limited on Metro-North. Some subway service has also been impacted.

CLICK HERE for the latest on mass transit impacts in the Tri-State area.

Throughout the state, crews were out ahead of the storm trimming trees near power lines in hopes of preventing outages.

"PSEG Long Island continues to monitor this nor'easter, and we are prepared to respond," said Michael Sullivan, vice president of Transmission & Distribution at PSEG Long Island. "We have performed system and logistic checks, and have additional personnel at the ready. However the storm tracks, our crews will safely restore any outages as quickly as these wintry conditions allow."

More than 900 line workers, tree trimmers, surveyors and other utility personnel are dedicated to any necessary restoration on Saturday.

RELATED | Winter hurricane? What is a 'bomb cyclone' or 'bombogenesis'?

Customer Safety:

--Downed wires should always be considered "live." Please stay away from them, and do not drive over or stand near them. It is best to maintain a distance of at least 30 feet from a downed power line. To report a downed wire, call PSEG Long Island's 24-hour electric service number at 800-490-0075 or call 911.

--Electric current passes easily through water. If you encounter a pool of slush or standing water, stop, back up and choose another path. And remember, downed lines are not easy to see in snow.

--Never use a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent. Use an extension cord that is more than 20 feet long to keep the generator at a safe distance.

The State Department of Transportation is responding to the current weather event in multiple regions with the following assets:

--1,596 large snow plows

--322 large loaders

--143 medium duty plows

--51 tow plows

--39 snowblowers

--23 pickup trucks with plows

--20 graders

The Thruway Authority has 681 operators and supervisors ready to respond with 240 large snow plows, 117 medium snow plows, 11 tow plows and 66 loaders across the state with more than 119,000 tons of road salt on hand. Variable Message Signs and social media are utilized to alert motorists of winter weather conditions on the Thruway.

WATCH | NYC Sanitation Commissioner updates on snow clearing efforts

Safety Tips

Winter Travel

--The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, make sure that your vehicle is clear of ice and snow; good vision is key to good driving.

--Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars.

--Be extra alert and remember that snowdrifts can hide smaller children.

--Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

--It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 mph, which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit, to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. Oftentimes on interstate highways, snowplows will operate side by side, as this is the most efficient and safe way to clear several lanes at one time.

--Motorists and pedestrians should also keep in mind that snowplow drivers have limited lines of sight, and the size and weight of snowplows can make it very difficult to maneuver and stop quickly. Snow blowing from behind the plow can severely reduce visibility or cause whiteout conditions. Motorists should not attempt to pass snowplows or follow too closely. The safest place for motorists to drive is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.

Some of the most important tips for safe driving include:

--When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.

--Use caution on bridges as ice can form quicker than on roads.

--Wet leaves on roadways can cause slippery conditions, making it important to drive at slower speeds when approaching patches of them.

--Make sure your car is stocked with blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick-energy foods and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag.

--Keep your gas tank full to prevent gasoline freeze-up.

--If you have a cell phone or two-way radio available for your use, keep the battery charged and keep it with you whenever traveling. If you should become stranded, you will be able to call for help, advising rescuers of your location.

--Make sure someone knows your travel plans.

--While driving, keep vehicles clear of ice and snow.

--Plan stops and keep distance between cars. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

Power Outages

If experiencing a power outage, you should:

--Turn off or disconnect major appliances and other equipment, e.g., computers, in case of a momentary power surge that can damage these devices. Keep one light turned on so you know when power returns. Consider using surge protectors wherever you use electronic equipment.

--Call your utility provider to notify them of the outage and listen to local broadcasts for official information. For a list of utilities, visit the State Department of Public Service.

--Check to see if your neighbors have power. Check on people with access or functional needs.

--Use only flashlights for emergency lighting - candles pose the risk of fire.

--Keep refrigerators and freezer doors closed - most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately four (4) hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.

--Do not use a charcoal grill indoors and do not use a gas stove for heat - they could give off harmful levels of carbon monoxide.

--In cold weather, stay warm by dressing in layers and minimizing time spent outdoors. Be aware of cold stress symptoms (i.e., hypothermia) and seek proper medical attention if symptoms appear.

--If you are in a tall building, take the stairs and move to the lowest level of the building. If trapped in an elevator, wait for assistance. Do not attempt to force the doors open. Remain patient - there is plenty of air and the interior of the elevator is designed for passenger safety.

--Remember to provide fresh, cool water for your pets.

--Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion and dangerous driving conditions. If you must drive during a blackout, remember to obey the 4-way stop rule at intersections with non-functioning traffic signals.

--Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not be working.

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