UPDATED– A blizzard warning has been lifted in Nassau County, but blowing and drifting snow continues to wreak havoc on the rails and roads.
Service remains suspended on all lines of the Long Island Rail Road–the nation's busiest commuter railroad–as of 5:30 p.m. Monday and officials are now saying trains may be stopped through the evening rush hour.
A winter weather service advisory on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's website reads:
"Due to the extreme nature of the ongoing blizzard, including high winds and major snow drifts, the MTA is urging its customers to stay home if at all possible. We have dispatched crews and snow fighting equipment throughout our network to clear and remove snow from the tracks, crucial signals and switches that make up our rail network. Snow fighting equipment including de-icers, snow blowers and snow throwers have also been dispatched to clear snow from bus stops. We hope to resume as much service as we can as soon as possible but we will not do so until it is safe for our customers and employees."
LIRR officials said the effort to clear tracks and switches has been "very challenging" as high winds blow cleared snow right back onto the tracks.
Things are not any better on the roadways. Numerous vehicles are stuck or are being abandoned on roads and ramps, according to a Nassau County Police Department traffic advisory released Monday morning.
"It is strongly advised that only essential personnel venture out on the roadways at this time," the advisory reads. "This would include police, fire, medical, utility and road maintenance crews."
Although the blizzard warning has expired, wind gusts of up to 50 mph are expected through the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
The LIRR originally had suspended eastbound service on most Long Island lines Sunday night because of switching problems near Jamaica, though not to Port Washington. But as the weather grew worse and the accumulation of snow increased, the railroad halted all trains.
Several trains that had not reached their destination before the suspensions were sent back to their points of origin. If service is restored Monday, the railroad plans to operate on a holiday schedule.
The MTA has advised commuters to check its website for updates on service. That website essentially crashed at one point due to heavy traffic Monday morning, but now seems to be back up and running.