Danger of Hypothermia Spreads as Wind Chill Dips

Friday, January 03, 2014

It's Code Blue in New York City as the wind chill factor threatened to dip below zero late Friday and early Saturday.

New York City officials said they are sending out extra vans to encourage the homeless to take refuge indoors and have issued a "Code Blue" alert city-wide. The designation means that homeless adults can be admitted to the shelter system without applying and keeps drop-in centers open throughout the day. 

The National Weather Service predicted lows of about 5 degrees Farenheit overnight. Forecasters said wind gusts reaching up to 30 miles per hour would make it feel several degrees colder, raising the dangers of hypothermia. The frigid temperatures are expected to ease later on Saturday, and the New York City Parks Department was planning a day of supervised sledding, snow angel-making contests and other events in parks throughout the city.

Lisa Black, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeless Services, said that two or three vans in each of the city's five boroughs have been making rounds to locations where the homeless normally gathered. That compares to just one van normally. In extreme cases, homeless individuals can be forcibly taken off the street, Black said, but otherwise, outreach workers try to convince people to go to a shelter or other warm place.

"Some of them, we just gave them coffee, or they went into a local Dunkin' Donuts or a local business," Black said. "As long as we knew they were safe and warm, that was our job, to get them off the streets."

City officials asked members of the public to call 311 if they encountered homeless people outdoors, or 911 if it appeared that an individual was facing severe danger. The Coalition for the Homeless also offered a list of shelters that are operating.

The weather was widely seen as posing the first major test for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who assumed office on Wednesday. But the test turned out to be an easy one. Just 6 inches of snow fell in Central Park Thursday and Friday. By comparison, the December 2010 storm that led to a major backlash against then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg dumped 20.5 inches on the city.

Early Friday morning, De Blasio cancelled public school classes—about 12 hours after urging parents to assume that school would be in session—and shortly afterwards appeared before the news media, clearing the sidewalk in front of his house in Park Slope, Brooklyn. By noon, the Department of Sanitation reported that 100 percent of primary roads and 97 percent of secondary and tertiary roads had been plowed.

Things also may have run more smoothly because most people appeared to stay home. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority reported that subway ridership during Friday morning's rush was just 40 percent of normal; Metro-North's ridership was down to 15 percent of that level, and Long Island Rail Road's was 21 percent.

In other updates:

  • All express subway service overnight Friday was to be suspended to allow the MTA to store trains on express tracks and clear train yards of ice and snow.
  • Alternate-side-of-the-street parking regulations in New York City remain suspended through Saturday.
  • No trash or recycling will be picked up in the five boroughs until further notice
  • Tenants were urged to call their building's owner or manager if they lack heat or hot water, and to call 311 if they are unable to get a response.



    Cuomo says a system approaching from the west could drop a foot of snow on upstate New York. And a coastal storm may bring heavy snow and blizzard conditions here to the New York City area, especially on Long Island.


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    Comments [9]


    Really? this is a snowSTORM? c'mon, a couple of inches of snow, and the city is shut down. No snow plows anywhere during the night. Unbelievable. This is normal winter weather (we are not in Florida), but what poor preparation!

    Jan. 03 2014 01:30 PM
    99 Cent from Holliz, Queenz

    The new mayor is showing incredible courage in the face of adversity. He's super-amazing and incredible! I'm going to Tweet about it!

    He just announced that the Sanitation Dept. will use Dante's tremendous 'fro to help clean the sidewalks.

    Jan. 03 2014 11:49 AM
    LisaAnn from NYC

    Storm, what storm?! This is so pathetic. It snowed. It's cold out. Let's talk about it all day. Let's show my son shovel snow. Very sad. Let's see how he tackles real problems.

    Jan. 03 2014 10:53 AM

    Why does WNYC stop press conference coverage when the Mayor starts speaking Spanish?

    Jan. 03 2014 10:49 AM
    sal from brooklyn

    I have noticed that snowplows in south-east brooklyn are less of a presence than the recent snowfall (under Bloomberg). I agree with previous postings, mixed signals about driving and no school closings? The MTA is showing delays and how will the streets be. Interested in our mayor's response this morning.

    Jan. 03 2014 12:56 AM

    The City is definitely sending mix signals, they say "stay home", they close Highways, they tell us it will be freezingly cold out there. Under these circumstances why bother with one day of school? my 10 year old can have a day of in his life! what's the harm in taking precautions!?

    Jan. 02 2014 10:29 PM
    Josue from Bronx

    According to the new chancellor, or DiBlasio's puppet,
    "Families should, for now, plan on schools being open tomorrow morning. Since severe cold weather and snow are expected to make roads slippery, we urge New Yorkers to exercise caution when traveling to and from schools. Safety is a top priority for the Department."

    Safety is not a top priority. If it was, schools would be closed so parents could plan accordingly. It just goes to show everyone that the incompetence and inefficiency that prevailed during the Bloomberg years remain alive and well in the school system.

    Jan. 02 2014 09:39 PM
    Otto from manhattan

    If it so much a concern, why doesn't the Mayor tell the kids to stay home?

    Jan. 02 2014 07:07 PM


    Jan. 02 2014 04:00 PM

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