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Long Island weather: Wind chill brings subzero temperatures

A woman braves the cold and windswept snow

A woman braves the cold and windswept snow while walking along Straight Path in Wyandanch Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. Credit: Barry Sloan

Harsh winds are expected to make Long Island feel even more freezing this weekend, bringing subzero temperatures just days after a blizzard slammed Nassau and Suffolk counties.

The National Weather Service on Saturday confirmed that Thursday’s snowstorm was indeed a blizzard, with the caveat that the call is preliminary and subject to further review.

As for this weekend, the weather service has issued a wind chill advisory that remains in effect until Sunday morning. Winds will be so cold that they could cause frostbite in 30 minutes if skin is exposed, forecasters said.

“Do the obvious thing and put a hat and gloves on,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Jeffrey Tongue. “Frostbite and hypothermia can occur because the winds take the heat away from the body.”

Saturday marks the 11th straight day of temperatures below 32 degrees, making it the longest stretch of freezing temperatures since 1979, the weather service said.

Overnight, the lows fell to minus 11 degrees when factoring in wind chill, said National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pollina, based in Upton. The last time Long Island experienced above-freezing temperatures was Christmas Day, he added.

Saturday will be sunny, but frigid, with a high near 15 degrees. With the wind, it will feel like minus 5 to minus 10 degrees. Winds will blow from the northwest with gusts up to 37 miles per hour.

In Nassau County, a warming center at Cantiague Park Ice Rink in Hicksville will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, according to News 12. A warming center at Mitchel Field Administration Center in Uniondale will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Suffolk County residents who need emergency shelter this weekend can call 631-854-9100, a 24-hour hotline.

Nadyah Mohammed, 51, has been staying at a women’s shelter in Huntington. With shelter employees offering a warm bed, hot meals and winter clothing, she couldn’t turn it down.

“It’s all your necessities like gloves and a scarf, and it’s working,” she said.

She recently returned to living on Long Island after leaving Boston because of cold temperatures there.

“I came back to Long Island and now it’s cold here too,” she said inside the Huntington LIRR station lobby.

The bitter cold caused some transportation issues across the region. On Saturday morning, passengers at JFK Airport experienced lengthy waits set off by Thursday’s so-called bomb cyclone storm of windy snow in the region. A spokeswoman for the Port Authority, which runs the region’s major airports, said a backlog of flights caused a reduction in gate space, and that the agency was working to assist airlines experiencing delays.

After earlier winter weather-related delays, the Long Island Rail Road said trains were on or close to schedule across the region. In Riverhead, town police warned Saturday morning that snowdrifts had made some roads impassable and caused some drivers to abandon their cars.

While Long Island did not break the record low of 1 degree on Saturday, a record is likely in the near future, Pollina said.

“We’ll have a better chance at breaking the record tonight and into Sunday morning,” Pollina said. “The record is 6 degrees and we’re expecting 4.”

Sunday afternoon will be sunny with a high near 21 degrees. Winds will blow from the northwest at six to nine miles per hour. By Sunday night, it will turn cloudy and temperatures will climb to 23 degrees. Winds out of the southwest will gust as high as 23 miles per hour.

A cold air jet stream that had been resting in Canada in late December quickly made its way south, setting off a deep freeze. Looking at the temperatures around Christmas shows how fast the jet stream moved to Long Island, Pollina said.

“Just before Christmas, on the 23rd, we had highs in the lower 50s, which was above normal temperatures,” he said. “Then, on the 24th, it was only six degrees above normal. Then on the 26th, it just got progressively worse.”

Now that the jet stream is here, Long Island is in the middle of an arctic air mass, Pollina said.

Monday brings another chance of snow or freezing rain, the weather service predicted. But the day’s high, near 35 degrees, could mean Long Island will finally venture out of freezing territory. The chance for freezing rain or snow jumps to 40 percent Monday night, when the temperatures hit 34 degrees.

If it occurs, the precipitation on Monday night won’t be as heavy as Long Island experienced this past week, but could ice roadways and sidewalks, Tongue said.

Dennis Russell started blowing snow and spreading salt in front of the Nassau Coliseum at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, and three hours later he was still at it.

“It’s not bad,” said Russell, 21, of the arctic conditions. “I kinda knew it was coming.”

Such weather comes with the territory, said Russell, who lives in Queens. ”I’m from New York. It doesn’t bother me,” he said.

The Coliseum was hosting a bridal and wedding expo. Leyla Murphy’s ankles were bare as she walked across the parking lot to the entrance.

“I have to look professional,” said Murphy, 22, of her high-cropped pants. “It’s very difficult.”

Murphy, who lives in Floral Park, was in attendance to represent the Inn at New Hyde Park, where she works and which hosts weddings. The task freed her from other, less pleasant ones.

“My poor dad has to shovel without me,” she said.

Rachel Dono of North Babylon was attending the expo with her two sisters. She didn’t expect it to be quite so cold, she said as they made their way to the entrance.

“Not this painful,” said Dono, 33, a business analyst.

The key to Dono’s survival? “Seat warmers in my car,” she said.

With Jesse Coburn, Laura Blasey and Matthew Chayes

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