The National Weather Service has issued blizzard and coastal flood watches for all of Suffolk County from Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon, stating that "significant beach erosion" is possible on the South Fork. The previously issued winter storm watch has been canceled.
The South Fork is expected to get light snow Friday morning, then 5 to 10 inches of snow accumulation Friday night, followed by more snow Saturday.
"We're expecting a nor'easter," said David Stark, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office at Upton. Stark said light snow is expected to begin Friday morning or afternoon, changing over to rain and then back to snow Friday night, with up to a foot of snow expected by the time the snow stops on Saturday.
"Being out on the roads on Friday night and into Saturday could be very hazardous," Stark said. "The worst conditions are expected Friday night."
Wind gusts associated with this classic New England nor'easter will range from 25 to 35 miles per hour, with howling gusts hitting 60 miles per hour. Downed trees, tree limbs and flying debris will be part of the problem — winds will also cause whiteout conditions and possibly down power lines, creating power outages.
The National Weather Service forecasts the strongest winds and heaviest snowfall will occur from Friday afternoon into Saturday morning, although snowfall should begin early Friday morning.
A blizzard watch is issued when there is potential for falling and/or blowing snow with strong winds and extremely poor visibilities — it is considered more serious than the previous winter storm watch.
A technical "blizzard" would mean the following conditions over a period of three or more hours: sustained wind or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or higher with considerable blowing and/or falling snow that frequently reduced to less than a quarter of a mile.
The National Weather Service expects 5- to 7-foot waves hitting the Twin Forks Friday night, on top of the high tide, potentially causing widespread flooding of shore roads and basements, causing numerous road closures. "Lives may be at risk for people who put themselves in harm's way," the weather service states.