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Cold blast brings record temp -- and shivering horses, delayed trains, frozen marina

Boats at a standstill at the Shinnecock Commercial

Boats at a standstill at the Shinnecock Commercial Dock in Hampton Bays, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Credit: Randee Daddona

The dayslong cold blast blanketing Long Island hit a record 2 degrees Friday and continued to create misery with frozen pipes, shivering horses, delayed trains, and even a frozen marina in Montauk.

Boat traffic in and out of Long Island's largest fishing port in Montauk was at a standstill on Friday as cold weather and an influx of ice chunks from nearby waterways blocked the harbor.

"The harbor here is basically frozen," said Ismael Velasquez, petty officer at the Coast Guard station in Montauk. "We have 2 to 3 inches of ice in the harbor."

The Long Island Rail Road was hit with systemwide delays yesterday morning because of problems related to the cold, said spokesman Salvatore Arena.

He said a signal problem in Jamaica at 5:30 a.m. and another problem 45 minutes later in Long Island City caused delays of up to one hour that lasted past the rush hour. During Friday night's rush hour, there were a few scattered delays and a couple of cancellations, he said.

Plumbers said they continued to try to handle an avalanche of calls from home and business owners with frozen pipes.

"It's very chaotic. The phone hasn't stopped ringing," said Kelly McCaughlin of Hartcorn Plumbing & Heating in Ronkonkoma. "To me this is just craziness."

By yesterday afternoon, her office had received 24 calls for help -- about double the normal rate for a winter day, she said. They expect another wave of calls on Sunday when warmer temperatures allow frozen pipes to thaw and potentially flood homes because of burst pipes.

Stanhope Stables in Huntington bundled its horses in as many as four layers of blankets Friday, depending on the thickness of their coats, said Chelsea Soldner, 25, of Old Bethpage.

"Some horses get cold really easily and you can tell because they'll shiver like people do," she said. "Typically they go out for about four hours a day to walk around, but it's way too cold for that, especially with the wind, so we keep them inside."

Fire officials in Nassau and Suffolk counties said they had seen an uptick in house fires, most of them cold-related due to the improper use of heaters.

But many Long Island hospitals are not reporting an increase in cold-related visits to the emergency room. One exception is Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. Spokeswoman Shelley Lotenberg said NUMC's emergency department has experienced a 10 percent increase compared with this time last year.

While the temperature dropped to 2 degrees at MacArthur Airport in Islip yesterday morning -- breaking the date's previous record low of 10 degrees in 1993 -- the low Saturday morning was expected to be between 6 and 8 degrees, said David Stark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Upton.

That's all expected to change drastically during the day Saturday as temperatures soar into the lower 30s, he said. That will be followed by some snow -- about 1 inch in Suffolk and up to 3 inches in Nassau -- starting in the late afternoon. Then, between 7 and 9 p.m., the snow will transition to rain.

"It won't be a lot, but it'll be slippery and sloppy . . . [Saturday] evening and just wet on Sunday," said News 12 meteorologist Bill Korbel. He said the highs Sunday would reach about 40.

At Village Car Wash in Huntington, winter weather is good for business.

"Snow and salt is our friend," said owner Randy Greif, 52, of Huntington. "Cars get very dirty, so people come in more frequently than they would any other time of the year."

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