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It's cold on LI - but not THAT cold

Bill Theirfelder of Oakdale walks in the cold

Bill Theirfelder of Oakdale walks in the cold Monday afternoon. (Jan. 4, 2010) Credit: Ed Betz

It's not exactly historic cold, like the brutal winter of 1976-77.

But what Long Islanders can expect is a winter more like 2000-01, when average temperatures for January and February dipped about 2 degrees to 3 degrees colder than normal, forecasters said.

"That was a front-loaded winter," meteorologist Tom Kines of, based in State College, Pa., said of 2000-01, "with the coldest temperatures in December. I think we have the coldest yet to come."

Weather patterns show cold temperatures are in store, but "nothing brutal," he said. "It looks like this pattern could keep up through the month of January and part of February," he said.

Kines said long-range forecasters, who use the summer temperature of ocean waters and the hurricane season to make winter predictions, have been correct about frigid bursts across the Great Plains, mid-South and lower Atlantic states. Those forecasters have called for a slightly colder Long Island winter, too.

A major reason for the frost is a jet stream that is plunging much farther south and much longer than normal, which is responsible for cold-air masses moving south and then eastward.

What's making Long Islanders shiver a bit more than usual is the recent run of mild winters. For the winter, "we're around 40 for the highs and in the low- to mid-20s for the lows," said meteorologist Brian Ciemnecki of the National Weather Service in Upton. "That's not record-breaking cold. And we are talking wintertime."

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