Freezing temps to continue Thursday in Hudson Valley

Commuters exit an upstate-bound train onto the Yonkers

Commuters exit an upstate-bound train onto the Yonkers Metro-North platform on one of the coldest nights in recent Hudson Valley history. (Jan. 23, 2013) (Credit: Faye Murman)

The big shiver will continue Thursday, with a deadly wave of Arctic air expected to linger over the Hudson Valley.

The National Weather Service is predicting that the season's first cold spell will continue through Friday, with Thursday wind chills predicted to create a real-feel temperature of 5 below zero in Westchester County and 11 below zero in Putnam County.

The bitter cold wave that descended Wednesday stalled some rail service and delivered below-zero wind chill readings throughout the region.


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Wind chill readings, which combine temperatures plus the impact of wind on bare skin, plummeted to minus 9 degrees in Yonkers, minus 9 in Newburgh and minus 4 in White Plains on Wednesday morning. Actual temperatures in those areas were 7, 7 and 9 degrees, respectively. The day's high is expected to reach 18 degrees from 2 to 4 p.m.

The frigid temperatures were more than academic for John Fortes, a 41-year-old street cleaner for the New Rochelle Business Improvement District.

"You can never get used to it," he said. "You just do the best you can. When you can't feel the broomstick anymore, you just take a break and come back."

Fortes' advice for staying warm?

"Don't come outside," he said. "I believe we're at 9 below. There's no getting around that for anyone that's human."

It was so cold that at least one ski resort in New Hampshire was planning to close Wednesday and Thursday. Wildcat Mountain in the White Mountains region said it was expecting temperatures in the negative double digits and a wind chill of 48 degrees below zero -- conditions that would not be safe for guests or employees on the slopes.

Brysen Van Eck, a News12 meteorologist, warned that residents need to bundle up because frostbite can strike in as little as 20 minutes after exposure.

One Metro-North commuter, Rashida Crawford, 36, of Mount Vernon, heeded those warnings and bundled up before catching her train to Grand Central Terminal.

"Wearing lots of layers -- long underwear and tights," she said.

In a storm-damaged neighborhood near the beach on Staten Island, people who haven't had heat in their homes since the late October storm took refuge in tents set up by aid workers. The tents were equipped with propane heaters, which were barely keeping up with the cold, and workers were providing sleeping bags and blankets for warmth.

Eddie Saman is sleeping in one of the tents because the gaping hole in the roof of his home has rendered it uninhabitable. Heat has been restored to the house, but much of it escapes through the hole.

"It's very cold," Saman said, "and mainly I sleep here next to the heater here."

LIMITED RELIEF

The next few days will offer only limited relief from the Hudson Valley's big freeze, Van Eck said, with the mercury rising only to 22 degrees Thursday and Friday. Temperatures will edge up on Saturday with a high of 28 and Sunday will see a comparative heat wave with a high at the freezing mark. Monday and Tuesday, however, will bring some unseasonably warm temperatures with highs of 38 and 41 degrees, respectively, forecasters say.

A dusting of snow is possible Friday, though Van Eck said that front looks progressively weaker.

DEADLY IMPACT

Still, the temperatures in the Hudson Valley were balmy compared with some in the Midwest.

Arctic air swept south from Canada on Saturday, and authorities suspect exposure has played a role in at least four deaths so far.

"I am wearing a Snuggie under a top and another jacket over that," said Faye Whitbeck, president of the Chamber of Commerce in International Falls, Minn., a town near the Canadian border where the temperature was minus 30 on Tuesday morning. The so-called "Nation's Icebox" reached a balmy 3 below for a high. "I pulled out a coat that went right to my ankles this morning, and I wore two scarves."

Among the coldest temperatures recorded Tuesday was 35 below at Crane Lake, Minn., a National Weather Service forecaster said.

Police in Milwaukee, where the temperature was just 2 degrees at noon, checked under freeway overpasses to find the homeless and urge them to find a shelter.

On Sunday, a 70-year-old man was found frozen in his unheated home in Des Plaines, Ill. And in Green Bay, Wis., a 38-year-old man was found dead outside his home Monday morning. Authorities in both cases said the victims died of hypothermia and cold exposure, with alcohol a possible contributing factor.

A 77-year-old Illinois woman also was found dead near her car in southwestern Wisconsin on Saturday night, and a 61-year-old Minnesota man was pronounced dead at a hospital after he was found in a storage building Saturday morning.

With The Associated Press

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