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Arctic chill to send temps into teens

A woman tries to protect herself from the

A woman tries to protect herself from the frigid weather while walking to the bus stop at Roosevel Field Mall in Garden City in the midst of a heavy snow fall with sub freezing temperatures. (Jan. 21, 2014) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

Long Island residents and business owners are bracing for the third wave of Arctic chill this week, as temperatures after Monday night are not expected to climb above the low 20s until Thursday.

The frigid weather is taking a toll on Long Island homes. Keith Jones, 51, owner of Wise Plumbing Corp. on East Milton Street in Freeport, said he and his four-plumber team fixed pipes that burst in 15 homes last week, making this the busiest winter he's had since his business opened 11 years ago.

"The continuous cold is putting a strain on pipes," Jones said. "The pipes could last a lifetime under normal circumstances but right now, these aren't normal circumstances. This is extreme weather."

The average temperature on Long Island so far this month, 28.4 degrees, is about 2 1/2 degrees colder than normal, said Joseph Pollina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Upton office. Temperatures Monday will be a bit milder, up to 40 degrees, but will quickly dip Monday night into the teens. The Arctic air will linger through the end of the week. Wind chills will make it feel like the temperature outside is below zero, Pollina said.

Normal copper piping is thick and can withstand cold temperatures, plumber Jones said, but without the reprieve of above-freezing weather, this next blast could wreak havoc on homes.

"All the older houses are fair game right now," James said about pipes bursting. "The more prolonged stress on the pipes, the more likely something will happen."

In recent weeks, AAA clubs across the Northeast have received record call volumes and have had a 50 percent jump in calls related to dead batteries in vehicles, agency spokeswoman Heather Hunter said.

Elizabeth Flagler, a spokeswoman for power company PSEG Long Island, said while its systems are "normal" and no out-of-the-ordinary problems have occurred, extra staff will be on standby this week as they work through the coming cold wave.

Julie Marchesella -- president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, an umbrella group of the 42 chambers in the county with 6,000 members -- said local businesses have been hurting with decreased foot traffic.

"The bottom line is, people aren't really going to come out and shop," Marchesella said. "Restaurants probably won't be doing well unless they deliver, then it may be better."

Marchesella said hardware stores that sell shovels and ice melt, and specialty winter outlets like ski shops do very well in this weather, but it leaves everyone else in limbo.

"Most retailers know January and February are difficult months, but it has been more frigid than we're used to in years past," said Marchesella, who has owned Queen of Hearts, a plus-sized gown boutique for women in Merrick, for the past 20 years.

Since superstorm Sandy hit in October 2012, many businesses have been keeping lower inventories than they're used to, Marchesella said. This is to cope with differing and unexpected weather patterns.

"We're more on guard on what can happen in terms of the climate here in New York," Marchesella said.

"We were spoiled for such a long time to have a moderate and even-keeled weather format," he added. "But since Sandy, we are more on guard about what the possibilities could happen that are out of our control -- and this is something that is out of our control."

Long Islanders will have to wait until Saturday, when temperatures will begin to climb back toward the 30-degree mark.

Jones, who had three calls for cold-related plumbing issues Saturday, said he had to decline a call for service in Queens early Sunday morning.

"I've been working every day this month; it's exhausting me, it really is," Jones said. "I need a day off."

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