Bitter Cold Catches New Yorkers Off Guard; Winds Bring Danger
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Sunday was a frigid and windblown day in the Tri-State Area, which sparked forest fires, sent debris flying through the streets, and had people gearing up for what they fear is a glimpse of winter weather to come.
While Thanksgiving has yet to arrive, it might as well have been January outside in New York City Sunday.
As of 11 p.m. Sunday, the temperatures certainly were far from the subzero range, but they weren’t Indian summer either – 25 at Central Park; 24 in Babylon; 23 in Belmar, N.J.; and 16 in Monticello, CBS 2 Meteorologist Elise Finch reported.
With wind chills, it felt like 18 degrees in the city, 11 in Babylon, and just 2 degrees in Monticello.
The high reached only 30 at 2:14 p.m. – 21 degrees below average for this date. The low was 23 at 8:23 a.m.
As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported Sunday night, the conditions just kept getting colder as the sun went down. Plenty of people were bundled up.
“It’s horrible,” said Naish Torres of New Windsor. “It’s my first winter in New York.”
Torres just moved from Puerto Rico – a stark contrast to be sure. But it was a shock even for people used to cold weather.
“I wasn’t expecting this, not at all,” said Gerard Chimento of Belleville, N.J. ”I don’t even have a winter coat yet.”
Chimento was going around in a sweat shirt, which proved insufficient to fight the freeze.
“It was so cold that the heat in my house at 85 degrees was not even good enough,” Chimento said.
Added Najeedah Wilson of Glen Ridge, N.J.: “I’m wearing a big coat to prepare for the winter. I don’t think it’s enough. I need gloves and a hat.”
From the start of the day, New Yorkers were trying their best to stay warm, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.
“Just putting on laser clothes, trying to keep my mind focused on work,” one man in Times Square said. “That’s about all I could do.”
Said Simone, who moved to the Big Apple from South Florida a year ago: “I like New York, but when it comes down to this time of the year, nah.”
Of course, if you come from same place colder, it’s easier to stay warm.
“I’m coming from Greenland, and we have always cold,” a man told Stern. “So it’s normal.”
LINK: Check the forecast
But the frigid weather and blasting winds weren’t just a mere inconvenience for some. They made for dangerous conditions, particularly as fires broke out across the area.
In Elizabeth, N.J., about a dozen people were displaced when a fire broke out in a house at 705 Jefferson Ave. and spread to the attic of a house next door. Two people were had to be treated for smoke inhalation, and a handful of firefighters were treated for scrapes and cuts.
Due to the high winds, firefighters were confronted with flames blowing back at them “like a blow torch,” Elizabeth Fire Chief Thomas McNamara told 1010 WINS. He had to call for outside help.
The windy conditions also hampered firefighters battling a blaze Sunday at West 138th Street and Riverside Drive in Hamilton Heights. The winds fanned the flames, and they spread quickly, trapping a firefighter on the fifth floor.
Dozens of people were also left homeless by that blaze.
In Old Bridge Township, N.J., a brush fire at the edge of Cheesequake State Park prompted evacuations of nearby neighborhoods. The fire burned for hours as winds gusted up to almost 50 mph.
Two brush fires also broke out in Suffolk County on Long Island Sunday. The winds made for difficulty for firefighters battling a blaze in Brentwood, and one firefighter was hospitalized with minor injuries.
The high winds could also be to blame for a large sign that fell from a discount store in Brooklyn Sunday afternoon, injuring two people and crushing a BMW. The winds also took down a tree in Queens, and made for a precarious scene in Midtown Manhattan, where wires snapped off a building on west 57th Street.
The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning Sunday due to a risk of wildfires because of dry Conditions and high winds.
The forecast overnight low for Sunday night into Monday morning was 21 degrees, with wind chills at 15 to 20 mph from the northwest, with gusts up to 30 mph.
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