Dangerously Cold Temperatures Settle On Tri-State Area

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Tri-State Area was trapped in a deep freeze all day and night Friday, after extreme and dangerous cold moved in.

The temperature measured 20 degrees in Central Park at 5 p.m., but it hardly seemed like it. The wind chill made it feel like 11 in the city, and made the air temperature of 12 degrees feel like minus 1, CBS2’s Lonnie Quinn reported.

Temperatures dropped further as the night went on. By 11 p.m., it was 17 degrees on the Upper West Side.

Wind chill warnings were issued for Sullivan and Ulster counties Friday, and in the morning, winds topped out at 30 mph.

A high wind watch was also issued from late Saturday night through Sunday afternoon for New York City, the lower Hudson Valley, western and central Long Island and for parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. Wind gusts of 50 or even 60 mph could be seen on Sunday.

CHECK: Forecast & Alerts | Cold Weather Safety Tips

No records were set on Friday, but as CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported, city officials said the temperatures through this weekend will be some of the coldest the city has ever seen.

“It hasn’t been this cold since the early 90s as far as we can tell; as far as records go back. So use common sense and limit your time outside,” said Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Esposito. ”Some people have got to get outside – they work outside; they’ve got to get places — but try and limit your time outside. Dress properly. Stay dry.”

As New Yorkers bundled up, city officials have been taking action.

Homeless service workers will be doing citywide roundups and keeping checks on people choosing to stay out of shelters and on the streets. People are urged to call 311 if they have problems with residential heat or hot water.

And the Department of Sanitation will be working mandatory overtime for the small amount of snow expected Saturday.

“When you are fighting snow in these extremely cold temperatures, the salt is not as effective,” said Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “You are less likely to see asphalt, even if we have been down that street.”

The cold was so severe that Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier also advised New Yorkers to stay indoors unless they have to venture outside.

“The next few nights again will be bitterly, bitterly cold,” he said Thursday. “Stay indoors if you don’t have to be out.”

At Brooklyn Car Audio, the technicians were working nonstop installing automatic car starters.

Fifteen cars in the shop were getting outfitted with automatic starters Friday, and appointments were already booked for Saturday.

“We’ve quadrupled our business in the last few days. It’s been amazing,” said Will Sullivan of Brooklyn Car Audio. “The cold brings people out, but people realize now, it’s unbearable to be sitting out in the car waiting for it to warm up.”

Automatic starters are a safer option than leaving the keys in the ignition and waiting until a car warms up, Sullivan emphasized.

“You don’t have to leave your keys in. You don’t have to worry about security. You see when someone would try to break in or God forbid anything happens, they can’t go with it,” Sullivan said. “Especially with the new push-and-start cars, it makes it so they can’t take the car.”

In addition to posing a risk for theft, warming up a car unattended with the keys in the ignition is a ticketable offense in New York.

Meanwhile, not everyone had the option of staying inside.

“What am I doing to stay warm? I wear very expensive jackets,” said Michael Dillon of the Upper West Side.

“I’m freezing,” said Gabriella Illyes. “I forgot my sweater!”

Earlier in the day Molly Denihan of the Upper West Side told CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock her daughter cannot stand having her hands covered. But with arctic air in place, she made sure her little one was exposed to the elements for as little time as possible.

“It’s completely necessary – lunch stuff, dinner stuff — going straight home,” Denihan said.

Montana George of Brooklyn Heights likewise said he was trying to minimize his time outside.

“I’m very fast. I hop off the train, run there,” George said. “I’m very quick. I’m not outside for more than 15 minutes.”

George was not joking. Right after his interview, he ran right toward the warm lights that lined the runway for Fashion Week at Lincoln Center. It was a smart move, given that under such extreme conditions, frostbite can set in in just 15 minutes.

The Red Cross is also warning people to be careful when heating their homes.

“The problem that we’re running into is that people might use a generator, they might use their own car, they might sit in the car in the garage or something like that to warm up and without proper ventilation, carbon monoxide can seep into your car, it can seep into your home,” Red Cross spokesperson Craig Cooper told 1010 WINS.

He said it’s important to have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

“The importance of a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home should not be overlooked,” he said. “They need to be checked the same way that you would a smoke detector and they need to be placed on different levels of your house and not on the corner of the floor where there isn’t any air circulation.”

Some other tips:

– Don’t use gas appliances like ranges, ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home.

– Never use a generator, grill or camp stove inside a home, garage or basement.

– Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.

– Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.

– Make sure you have a working smoke detector in every room.

For more from the Red Cross, click here.

If the blast of arctic air isn’t enough, snow is also possible for parts of the area on Saturday. Forecasters are calling for 1 to 3 inches snow in the city with 3 to 6 inches possible on central and eastern Long Island.

A winter weather advisory was set to go into effect at 1 p.m. Saturday, and continue until 1 p.m. Sunday, for most of the area. A winter storm watch was issued for the same period of central Long Island, and a winter storm warning for eastern Long Island.

The New York City Department of Sanitation has issued a snow alert for Saturday afternoon, meaning crews, salt spreaders and plows will be ready for any snow that may fall in the city.

Saturday’s high is expected to be around 33 degrees, but strong gusty winds will return and drive wind chills back down to below zero Sunday and Monday. The overnight low Sunday night into Monday is expected to drop to 5 degrees, and New York City could see a wind chill early Monday of minus 10 or even minus 20, Quinn reported.

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