City Gets Ready for Arctic Freeze

(Ralph Hockens)

As New York City is bracing for dangerously cold temperatures with life-threatening wind chills, the NYPD has increased the number of homeless outreach units on duty.

The Department of Homeless Services is also on Code Blue Outreach, which means drop-in centers will be open 24 hours a day and chronically homeless people may be transported directly from the street to a bed. Code Blue is issued when temperatures drop to 32 degrees or below — wind chill this weekend is expected to drop into the negatives and temperatures will hover around 0.

In addition, the Fire Department of New York has deployed additional thawing units to address frozen fire hydrants. FDNY spokesperson Frank Dwyer said colder temperatures also increase the risk of fires.

The Department of Sanitation has 579 salt spreaders loaded and ready for deployment in case of icy roads across the five boroughs. A week after the Manhattan crane crash that took one life, the Department of Buildings has instructed contractors to secure properties and cranes ahead as there is a potential for high winds Saturday and Sunday.

The city’s Housing Authority is also watching nearly 2,000 boilers, including 21 mobile boiler plants at Sandy-impacted sites and the Department for the Aging is advising people to stay home.

Meanwhile, most street vendors across the city will likely be forced to close up shop over the weekend, according to the Street Vendor Project. Mohamed Ali, a food vendor on 42nd Street and Park Avenue and member of the project’s leadership board, said even Thursday was a challenge.

“I worked from 10 to 3 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.,” he said. “I couldn’t stay any longer. I didn’t think about the money. I just had to be out of there.”

He said he saw a few vendors still out on the street Friday. “I don’t have the right to tell them to pack up and go home but I wish they would,” Mohamed added.

Too Cold for Ice?

Is it ever too cold for an ice-carving event? Seems so.   An ice festival planned for Valentine’s Day weekend in Central Park was cancelled on Friday. The reason: a deep freeze

Announced via Facebook, organizers for the Central Park Conservancy said in a statement, “Due to extreme temperatures and high winds the Central Park Ice Festival scheduled for this Saturday, February 13 will be cancelled.”

The free event was supposed to host ice-carving artists from Okamoto Studio in Queens, transforming more than 6,000 pounds of ice into replicas of park statues. Attendees were to treat themselves to food truck fare as well as get the chance themselves to try their hand at ice carving. The festival was also set to feature live music.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures this weekend are set to hit record lows in the single digits with wind chills potentially dropping the temperature to between zero and minus-10. Wind gusts could reach around 44 mph.

This is not the first time this year that Central Park has had to cancel an event due to winter weather. Three weeks ago, the park cancelled Winter Jam 2016, an event that turns the park’s Bandshell Area into a winter wonderland of skiing, snowboarding and sledding, because of the blizzard.

Although temperatures are expected to climb back to the upper 40s by next weekend, the conservancy said the ice carving festival will not be rescheduled. So what happens to the 6,000 pounds of ice? The organizers did not reply to requests for comment. Our guess: It’ll melt.

How to Dress for the Cold

By Mary Kekatos

ASTORIA – When it comes to staying warm, no one knows how to dress better than Jon Restrepo. With a deep freeze coming, the assistant manager at Brown’s Army & Navy store in Astoria says that products to combat the cold weather have been flying off the shelves.

“Over the last couple of days, we’ve sold out of our hats,” he said. “And right now we specialize in a lot of thermals especially for construction workers because we have a few construction sites around our area.”

With record low temperatures in the single digits set for the weekend, with wind chills that will make it feel like minus-25 degrees, Restrepo offered some tips on how to dress to beat the cold.

When it comes to outerwear, Restrepo recommends boots with insulation between 200 and 400 grams. “Those will keep your feet the warmest,” he said, “and make sure they’re waterproof.”

Wearing a good pair of socks is also important, said Restrepo, who recommends Wigman socks, the brand his store carries.

“The liner of polypropylene will keep the feet dry and warm,” he said.

When it comes to outerwear, Brown’s Army & Navy likes sticking to the basics.

“We carry some classic military jackets, like the M-65 field jacket,” Restrepo said.

Most well known for being distributed to soldiers during the Vietnam War, they have gained popularity among the civilian population over the past several years for such features as a liner attachment. Restrepo says that this makes the jacket light enough to wear in the spring with no lining and warm enough to wear in the winter with a lining.

For Restrepo, the key to staying warm comes down to following these three tips:

– Definitely layer up.

– Wear thermals, definitely like a double layer. And if you don’t like thermals you can wear something like pants with a fleece lining

– Keep your head and feet covered; invest in well insulated boots and socks.

M-65 field jacket