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Arctic Freeze Brings Record Cold to New York City

By  Trevor Kapp and Aidan Gardiner | January 7, 2014 7:45am | Updated on January 7, 2014 12:31pm

 Temperatures dropped to 4 degrees in Central Park Tuesday morning, officials said.
New Yorkers Brave Cold
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NEW YORK CITY — New Yorkers were urged to stay indoors and bundle up as arctic air froze the city, sending temperatures to record lows Tuesday.

City agencies coordinated cold-weather efforts, including putting emergency staff on standby, advising citizens how to handle the cold and suspending alternate-side parking, officials said.

The mercury fell to 4 degrees by the morning commute — beating the low mark set in 1896 for the coldest Jan. 7 on record by 2 degrees, according to a National Weather Service spokesman.

The city's coldest day ever was on Feb. 9, 1934, when temperatures plummeted to 15 degrees below zero, the spokesman added.

"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 statement late Monday.

The NWS also issued a wind-chill advisory for the day because gusts up to 45 mph could make it feel much colder than the morning low of 4 degrees.

As of 11:30 a.m., the FDNY had responded to 17 calls from people who said they were too cold, with some even complaining of possible frostbite or hypothermia, a spokesman said.

"In many cases, the patients refuse medical attention," said FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer.

The chill began Monday night when cold air moved through the area followed by part of the Polar Vortex, a persistent swirling mass of air around the North Pole, according to NWS spokesman Joe Poolina.

"We had a cold front that moved through yesterday. Behind it we had arctic high pressure come through. The Polar Vortex is more or less always present, but we had a piece of it come down," Poolina said.

Temperatures were expected to rise to 24 degrees Wednesday and continue climbing through the tail end of the week, according to Poolina.

In the meantime, here's how the cold is affecting the city:

Schools and Students

Public schools are open, but kids should wear layers, according to the Department of Education.

Cold can create mechanical problems or delays for buses, the DOE warned, so parents should wait with their kids at the bus stop or give them a clear plan if the bus doesn't come.

Transit and Roads

Subways were running with scattered delays on the A, B, C, D, E, M, R, 2, 3, 6 and 7 lines due to signal problems and maintenence, according to the MTA's website.

Alternate-side parking was suspended for Tuesday, according to the Office of Emergency Management.

The MTA advised drivers on the Throgs Neck, Marine Parkway and Cross Bay bridges to drive slower because of the high winds.

Crews were out on other bridges and the Staten Island Ferry with anti-icing gear and other equipment, OEM said.

Amtrak trains were running on a modified schedule on both the Northeast Corridor and Empire lines because of the cold, the train service tweeted.


New Yorkers should ensure their homes are insulated as much as possible and refrain from using unregulated heating devices like ovens and fuel-burning space heaters, which can cause fires, OEM officials said.

Tenants without heat should contact their superintendent or manager and then call 311 or report it online if the problem isn't fixed.

The OEM provided additional home-heating tips.

At public housing facilities, additional teams of plumbers, electricians and heating crews were poised to respond to outages or other weather-related emergencies, according to OEM.

NYCHA also planned to post fliers in all 2,600 of its buildings to warn residents of the cold and urge them to check in with vulnerable neighbors.


Officials warned New Yorkers to layer their clothing, avoid long periods outside and learn about potential health hazards.

The NWS provided cold weather safety tips and OEM gave information about hypothermia and other risks.

If anyone sees someone they think is at risk, they should first call 911 and then help get the person to a warm area while waiting for assistance to arrive, according to the OEM.

The Department of Homeless Services was increasing its outreach to unsheltered homeless people and the Parks Department was checking all parks for people staying out in the open, according to OEM.

Hospitals were running normally, the OEM said.

Buildings and Construction

A glass door shattered at 104 East 25th St., near Park Avenue, about 10:15 a.m., and staff there blamed it on the cold, but the Department of Buildings couldn't confirm the cause.

Property owners and contractors must secure work sites due to the inclement weather and high winds, the DOB said.

The DOB planned to randomly check sites around the city and will issue stop work orders as necessary, agency officials said.

Buildings also put additional staff on standby in case of emergencies, according to OEM.

Look Out

"Vulnerable populations, such as seniors and infants, are most at risk during extreme weather events, so it's important to check on friends, family and neighbors if you think they need help getting to a warm place," the OEM said in a Monday statement.

For more weather news, check DNAinfo's weather page.