Many Area Residents Desperate To Escape To Warm Weather Destinations

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — There are a little more than three weeks before winter ends on the calendar, but Mother Nature isn’t letting up just yet.

A major winter storm could dump as much as 10 inches of snow on the region Sunday night into Monday. The heaviest precipitation is likely to fall overnight into the Monday morning commute at an inch per hour at times, CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn reported.

The intensity of the storm depends on two high-pressure systems that will be hovering over the Tri-State area.

“The challenge with this storm is that it is uncharted territory for this winter,” Quinn said. “This winter has been brutal, and all of our storms have come up the Eastern seaboard. Those storms envelope our entire area because the Tri-State sits on the seaboard. This storm will approach us from the west, but will not be the storm we are seeing right now in California.

“To put that in perspective, California has picked up more than 5 inches of rain, but we will have about an inch of available water to convert to snow,” Quinn added.

The relentless winter weather has taken its toll on many New Yorkers.

“This has been a tough winter because it’s been cold and snowy,” carpenter Victor Marlo told CBS 2’s Sonia Rincon.

“We’re doing what we can,” added artist Ben Tritt.

With another deep freeze setting in, some Coney Island residents said they’re concerned about how they are going to stay warm.

Residents in New York City Housing Authority buildings in Coney Island said when it’s really cold out the temporary rental boilers that were put in after Hurricane Sandy stop working.

Those boilers cost NYCHA at least $1 million a month to rent, Rincon reported.

“When we had the 9-degree weather, it broke down then,” said Carey Gardens resident leader Shirley Atkins. “Three days before they came out to fix it…I’m quite sure that’s gonna happen again.”

City Councilman Mark Trayger said the problem is that the boilers are not meant to be operating below 40 degrees, Rincon reported.

“So what NYCHA was doing was plugging in a cheap heater to blow hot air at this boiler to keep it working. Obviously during the coldest stretches of weather, it broke down. These are unreliable boilers,” Trayger said.

NYCHA said without knowing how much funding it’s going to get, it can’t replace the mobile boilers with permanent ones, and that they’ll be in place for another couple of winters.

Trayger told Rincon he hopes to turn the heat up on the insurance companies that owe NYCHA millions that will go toward replacing the boilers Sandy destroyed.

In the meantime, Trayger said he’s looking for some assurance the boilers will be staffed 24/7 this weekend to keep everyone warm at home.

While many are hunkering down to battle the cold and snow at home, others said they are desperate to escape to warm-weather destinations and tourism agencies have stepped up their enticements by plastering trains and billboards with ads showing beaches and pool scenes.

“I don’t need a vacation. I don’t need the relaxation,” said Shannon Frauenholtz. “I just need the heat.”

Because they know how miserable people are, warm-weather destinations in California, Arizona and Florida have stepped up their enticements.

Last month, swimsuit-clad models gave away sunglasses and free MetroCards at a bus stop at 42nd Street between Lexington and Third avenues.

It was all part of a campaign to promote tourism in Fort Lauderdale. The bus shelter was fitted with a space heater and beach chairs to get New Yorkers to think warm.

The promotion also included images of Fort Lauderdale beaches and a cabana with palm trees at Grand Central and at John. F. Kennedy airport.

Just how many more people are trying to get out of the ice box is unclear. Airlines do not release any route-specific data. And although the government tracks some of it, figures will not be released for six months.

But other travel statistics suggest there has been a jump, including figures from Visit Florida that show hotel bookings in Florida rose 3 percent in the four weeks ending Feb. 15 compared with the same period last year.

The site found that the number of hotel bookings in warm-weather spots made by customers from Illinois, New York, Massachusetts and the Washington, D.C. area rose 7 percent in January compared with last year.

But if you can’t get away, there are some tips to make it through the freeze.

For those suffering from dry cracked skin and chapped lips brought on by the brutal conditions, doctors say there are some simple things you can do.

“When they shower, they should use a moisturizing body wash, don’t use soap,” said Dr. Bruce Katz of the Juva Skin & Laser Center. “Soap wicks the oils from the skin. Hot water does the same. Keep the water lukewarm if you can. When you get out, pat yourself dry with a towel, don’t rub vigorously like a lot of people like to do. That irritates the skin.”

For more winter weather safety tips, click here.

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