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Coldest Air In Decades Bearing Down On Tri-State Area

Deep Freeze Prompts Emergency Plans, Pushes Back Subway Construction
Bitter Cold NYC

The temperature was expected to drop to 7 degrees overnight Monday, Jan. 6 into Tuesday, Jan. 7 in New York City. (Credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The temperature was already plummeting rapidly from its balmy morning high Monday evening, and when Tuesday comes around, the Tri-State Area will see the coldest day since 1994.

CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn reported the temperature topped out at 55 degrees at 8:51 a.m. Monday. By 11 p.m., the temperature had dropped 30 degrees to 25 — and compared with the lowpoint expected early Tuesday, even 25 may seem comfortable.

The overnight low for the area was expected to bottom out at a frigid 7 degrees. And at 7 a.m. Tuesday, the temperature at Central Park is expected to top out at 11 degrees, with a wind chill of minus 6, Quinn reported.

Elsewhere in the area, temperatures were expected to drop even lower. The 7 a.m. temperature was expected to drop to 8 in Farmingdale; 7 in Belmar, N.J.; 6 in Boonton, N.J.; and minus 1 in Liberty in Sullivan County.

WEB EXTRA: Forecast | Cold Weather Safety Guide | Cold Weather Fact Vs. Fiction

The wind chill in Liberty was expected to drop to a dangerous minus 21, Quinn reported.

A 7-degree air temperature with a 20 mph wind gust will make for a wind chill making it feel as if it were 11 below zero, Quinn explained. A 40 mph wind will make 7 degrees above zero look like 19 below, and a 50 mph gust will make it feel like 22 below.

The forecast high for New York City on Tuesday was expected to top out at just 13 degrees – a drop of 42 degrees from the Monday night.

The New York City Office of Emergency Management has activated its Winter Weather Emergency Plan in advance of the dangerous cold. An Advance Warning System alert will be activated to notify all New Yorkers about the impending cold snap.

Several other city departments have also enacted emergency plans. The Department for the Aging will open all senior centers only for lunch Tuesday beginning at 11 a.m. and will close them afterward, but case management agencies will check on home-bound seniors and high-risk clients.

The Department of Buildings has alerted property owners and contractors to secure construction sites, and will be performing random inspectors to make sure they do so – with the possibility of tickets and stop work orders for violations.

The Department of Homeless Services has enacted its Cold Weather Emergency Procedure, called Cold Blue, to protect the homeless.

And the New York City Housing Authority has put out a flier in English, Spanish, Russian and Chinese in all 2,600 city public housing buildings, warning residents of the cold and asking them to check on their vulnerable neighbors.

“With a dangerous cold snap and deadly wind chills predicted to blanket New York City this evening and tomorrow I urge all New Yorkers to find a warm place to stay to avoid hypothermia, frostbite, and other life-threatening health conditions,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news release. “City agencies have taken a number of steps to prepare for this cold weather, including alerting vulnerable populations and doubling outreach efforts to homeless individuals. As we enter this cold period it’s also important to make sure you are heating your home safely. Never use gas stoves or portable gas heaters indoors to heat your home, as those can lead to fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.”

Several subway lines that usually run express were making local stops Monday night due to the cold.

In Brooklyn, southbound B trains were running local from Prospect Park to Brighton Beach; A trains were running local between Euclid Avenue to Hoyt-Schermerhorn Street in both directions; southbound D trains were running local from Atlantic Avenue to 36th Street, and southbound N trains were running local from Atlantic Avenue to 59th Street.

In Manhattan, southbound Q trains were making local stops between 57th Street-Seventh Avenue and Canal Street.

And Between Manhattan and the Bronx, northbound D trains were running local from 145th Street to Bedford Park Boulevard.

The bitterly cold forecast also put some subway repairs on ice.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Monday that planned overnight work on the G line has been suspended on Monday and Tuesday. That way, people won’t have to stand outside to wait for shuttle buses. Click here for more info.

The G line work will resume Wednesday and Thursday nights, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. During those hours, service will be suspended between the Bedford-Nostrand Avenues stop and the Church Avenue station.

Riders can take shuttle buses, or the F train, instead.

Dangerous Road Conditions Expected
And also in advance of the freezing weather, the New York City Department of Transportation announced alternate side parking has been suspended for Tuesday. Parking meters will continue to operate normally across the city.

The conditions “will make driving treacherous,” Robert Sinclair of AAA New York said. “The main thing is to keep your speed down. Remember it takes a vehicle up to nine times longer to stop in ice and snow.”

If you do slide in the slick conditions, experts remind you to look and steer in the direction you want to go instead of where you’re afraid of hitting.

WEB EXTRA: Check Weather | Check Traffic

As CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, Jonathan Venusti of Venusti auto body in Mahwah was gearing up for what he expected to be a very busy night and morning.

“I’m thinking probably a lot of calls; maybe a lot of jumpstarts, but probably a lot of people sliding out the roads on the spots where water turned to ice,” he said.

Venusti has engine heaters plugged in for his entire fleet of tow trucks. John Cangelose does not have any such luxury for his car.

“I’ll get up 15, 20 minutes earlier, go out start the car. I just had the battery replaced not too long ago so I’m not worried about it,” Cangelose said. “I let the car warm up about 15, 20 minutes and I’m on my way.”

He also advised having some extra anti-freeze, oil, and a full tank of gas. Also, he advised packing emergency supplies in case you get stranded.

“If the engine isn’t running, a vehicle is 95 percent metal, and it’s going to be very quickly at the same temperature as the outside air,” Sinclair said. “So it’s important to keep a blanket, a warm scarf, gloves, hat.”

Carlo Snide, a transplant from California, said he packed his trunk with some winter survival goods.

“I have an extra jacket and I have a blanket in my car, just in case, and my buddies always tell me to keep shovels and stuff like that because, in the West Coast we don’t get this cold,” Snide said.

AAA also recommends drivers remove their coats before getting behind the wheel so they aren’t restricted in case of an emergency situation.

“Be as free and easy as possible,” Sinclair said. “You want to maintain a smooth driving style. None of the herky-jerky on the steering wheel or with the gas or with the brake. Smoothness is the key.”

AAA recommends checking your tire pressure because it goes down when the temperatures drop.

But experts advised you would be best off not driving at all.

Some drivers told CBS 2′s Alice Gainer on Monday afternoon that it’s important to be cautious.

“Been a little slick … and wet, but if you’re an experienced driver, you know how to handle yourself,” said Nick Padron, of Harlem.

“It’s been really sludgy,” a New York City taxi driver added. “Well, there’s a lot of people that cannot drive when the weather’s bad, so the traffic slows down.”

Experts advised you would be best off not driving at all on Tuesday.

The sidewalks wet with melted snow refrozen into ice could also turn dangerous. Experts advise being careful going up and down stairs.

And while it is obviously best not to fall at all, doctors said there are ways to prevent serious injuries.

“One of the most common injuries we see during icy weather like this is broken wrists, so if you can catch yourself by falling on your side or avoid falling on an outstretched hand, that might save you a broken bone,” said Dr. Chris Tedeschi of NewYork Presbyterian-Columbia University Medical Center.

Experts said children and the elderly in particular should take extra precautions to prevent falling.

The extreme could will only last one day. Temperatures again bottom out at 9 degrees Tuesday night before the high climbs to 23 on Wednesday, 33 on Thursday, 42 on Friday, 47 on Saturday, and all the way back to 50 on Sunday, Quinn reported.

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