Snow certainly has made its mark in February. Now it’s time for the cold to make its presence known.
Conditions turn cold on Thursday, colder on Friday — and then a strong Arctic cold front arrives for the weekend, threatening temperature records for Valentine’s Day on Sunday.
As Rich Hoffman, News 12 Long Island meteorologist puts it: The big story “will be the bone chilling — teeth chattering — slap in the face cold.”
The forecast has prompted Hempstead Town to open 16 warming centers through Friday.
“Extreme cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills” are the biggest hazards, especially for overnight Saturday into Sunday, the National Weather Service said.
A look at highs at Long Island MacArthur Airport shows a descent from around 29 degrees on Thursday to 27 Friday, 23 for Saturday and 18 for Sunday, the National Weather Service said in its Wednesday afternoon forecast. The record for the coldest high temperature for Sunday is 26 degrees, set in 1987, said Carlie Buccola, weather service meteorologist based in Upton.
Overnight lows for Saturday into early Sunday are forecast for 1 degree, which would also break the record low of 7 degrees for Sunday set in 2015, she said.
The last time the airport saw zero or below was Jan. 4, 2014, hitting zero on the nose, said Jessica Spaccio, climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center, based at Cornell.
So much for February’s monthly temperature, so far, of close to six degrees above normal. If those forecast temperatures hold, that surplus could be pretty much wiped out by Monday, Spaccio said.
Now, let’s add in wind chill. Thanks to blustery winds, Thursday and Friday could see “feels like” temperatures in the teens, Buccola said, with conditions Saturday night into early Sunday delivering wind chills of as low as minus 15 to minus 20 degrees.
Her advice — stay indoors if at all possible, but if not, bundle up and wear plenty of layers.
Those who are most vulnerable to hypothermia include the elderly with insufficient clothing or heat; babies sleeping in cold rooms; and those spending too much time outside, such as the homeless and people hiking, the weather service said. Companion animals should also be brought indoors or provided with outdoor shelter that’s sufficiently warm.
Wednesday morning brought mostly trace amounts of snow to Long Island, with stray flurries still possible into the afternoon.
Coastal flood advisories had been in effect, but were lifted as tide levels have been coming down, said David Stark, weather service meteorologist based in Upton.
Daily highs Wednesday are expected to be in the mid- to upper 30s with windchill values making it feel more like between 20 and 30 degrees, the weather service said.
Those temperatures aren’t expected to return until Monday.