Long Islanders endured biting cold on Thursday, with the thermometer bottoming out at 3 degrees early in the morning, breaking a record set 54 years ago, the National Weather Service said.
Wind chill temperatures dove to 17 below zero at 7 a.m., but the good news is that the hellish freeze will be short lived, with temperatures expected to hit the mid-40s and possibly the 50-degree neighborhood early next week, forecasters say.
Meteorologists expect another dip to the single digits by sunrise Friday, down to 8 degrees or so. The wind chill will make temperatures feel like minus 5 to zero, the service said.
Temperatures will “slowly start to moderate, with highs rising into the 20s,” the weather service said.
Thursday appeared to be a double record-breaker for the date on Long Island, the weather service said.
The lowest high was 23 degrees, set in 1977, but just after 2:30 p.m. Thursday it was 17 degrees, said meteorologist Jay Engle at the service's Upton office.
The record wouldn't be confirmed until after midnight, he said, but it looked like one for the history books. "We didn't get out of the teens," he said late Thursday evening.
A record that was confirmed was the early-morning low of 3 degrees, freezing out the former record for the date of 4 degrees set in 1965, the service said.
Temperatures in the frostbite and hypothermia territory caused disruptions Thursday.
Two broken rails caused 10- to 15-minute delays during Thursday morning's commute on two of the LIRR's 11 branches and another broken rail caused delays west of Southampton, the Long Island Rail Road said.
LIRR remained on alert with prepositioned crews to handle weather-related woes. The railroad's waiting rooms, some of which typically close late at night, will remain open 24 hours a day until Saturday, the LIRR said.
The dangerous cold prompted some of the homeless, who often avoid shelters, to come in from the outside. Seven homeless men in Nassau decided to give shelters a try for the first time Wednesday overnight, among the 16 people who came in from the cold because they had no place to go, Nassau County officials said.
In Suffolk, officials said they referred 50 people to its shelter, nearly double the 27 referrals the county made Tuesday night.
With Matthew Chayes, Chau Lam and Ellen Yan