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MTA Blames 24-Hour 7 Train Shutdown on 'Flash Freeze' in Northern Queens

By Katie Honan | February 13, 2015 1:50pm | Updated on February 16, 2015 9:01am
 Deicer trains, like this one on Feb. 2, will be ready for this weekend's arctic blast, an official said.
Deicer trains, like this one on Feb. 2, will be ready for this weekend's arctic blast, an official said.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

CORONA — The 7 train shutdown that brought the entire line to a grinding halt earlier this month was due to a flash freeze that affected northern Queens — but the agency says it's ready for this weekend's predicted record low temperatures.

An MTA spokesman said a unique weather pattern that hit northern and western Queens caused ice to build up on the line's third rail, forcing trains to be taken out of service from Flushing to Times Square for nearly 24 hours. 

On Friday, there was a short service disruption and delays due to signal problems at 74th-Broadway, but a spokesman said they weren't sure if it was weather related.




A winter storm bore down on the city on Feb. 2, dumping more than a tenth of an inch of ice on parts of the five boroughs, on top of snow.

According to the spokesman, the area experienced heavy precipitation and rapidly decreasing temperatures from a small weather band that passed through the area.

The impact was so localized that the freeze did not register just miles away at JFK, the spokesman said.

Disruption earlier that day from a stalled train near Queens Plaza and an umbrella that caught fire on the third rail at 52nd Street also contributed to the freezing.

As a result, riders were stranded in trains that had to be slowly brought back to stations and service wasn't fully restored until Feb. 3.

Forecasters expect face-freezing cold starting Thursday evening and continuing until Monday, according to Tim Morrin of the National Weather Service.

Temperatures won't get above the teens until next week and some snow showers are expected this weekend. 

The brutal forecast could also mean service issues on above-ground trains, including the 7 — which had major disruptions on Feb. 2 when the service froze.

An MTA spokesman said the agency is preparing for the major chill with its usual equipment, including de-icers.

The winter weather plan, which includes the reduction of 7 train service, will also be in place, according to the spokesman. 

Service on some lines may also be temporarily suspended if weather "worsens," the MTA website said.