Arctic Blast, Day 2: Step Into The Deep Freeze

Firefighter uses hose to battle a fire in Bedford-Stuyvesant—and the water formed ice on a tree
Dashed Arrow
Firefighter uses hose to battle a fire in Bedford-Stuyvesant—and the water formed ice on a tree Mark Lennihan/AP/Shutterstock

We knew today would be cold, but when you are not in the shit, it's hard to appreciate just how cold subzero temps actually feel—sure, you look at AccuWeather and read "currently 3 degrees; RealFeel -14 degrees," and a little bit of bile rises in your throat because you understand that those projections are perilously bleak. But they are also numbers on a page, hard to reconcile until you descend the dark stairs from your apartment to your building's door; until you notice how the air gets colder with every downward step, even though you're still inside; until you throw open the door and the bitter wind slaps you angrily across the face as if to smite you for thinking you could somehow avoid your fate; until you are blinded by the all-too-cheerful sun and also the tears that just froze in your eyeballs.

You survived the Squall and you thought you'd seen the worst of it. Nope!

It is very cold out there, colder here than in Alaska, and Norway, and Russia. It is so cold that news anchors are out there, throwing cups of water in the air, and watching the droplets freeze mid-flight.

It is so cold that the harbor is generating steam, a trick I didn't know it could do.

It is so cold that this water main break at W 99th Street will almost certainly turn Broadway into an ice rink:

We've been through this before but to reiterate, we owe these frigid temps to the ARCTIC BLAST blowing through from way up north, i.e., to climate change. Yesterday brought snow squalls and frightening gusts, and while no snow is forecasted for today—frankly, it's way too cold for that nonsense—we can look forward to bone-rattling chill and raging winds all day long. AccuWeather predicts the actual temperature will top out at 16 degrees, but it's quite possible that the warmest the air will feel will be ZERO DEGREES. Mostly, it will feel 10 to 20 degrees below that, and unbearably breezy.

Friday, for what it's worth, should be slightly warmer: 18 to 23 degrees, with temps climbing as high as 45 on Sunday?? I don't even know what that means. Anyway, it's very bad, but actually the Arctic Blast reserved the bulk of its venom for the midwest: It has not been as cold in Chicago as it is now (-21 degrees overnight, assholes) since 1985. In Iowa City, windchill made outdoor temps feel like -51 degrees. Just to give us all a bit of perspective. And here's Minnesota:

In the midwest, at least six people have died as a result of the weather, and almost certainly, the cold snap could prove fatal here. Heading into the freeze, thousands of NYCHA residents found themselves without heat and/or hot water, a situation that's become unfortunately common during severe winter storms, and poses particular danger to the elderly, infants, and people with medical conditions.

City policy holds that every person experiencing homelessness will be given shelter when temps drop below 32 degrees, if bystanders call in a report to 311. And again, swiping someone in need into the subway (it's legal) can also help them stay warm.

Bottom line, if you can stay inside today, you should! City officials condone this! But if you must go out, please, layer up: Long underwear, sweaters, ski masks, rubber gloves under your regular gloves (h/t NY Times, Chicagoans), boots, hand- and foot-warmers, scarves, hats, and for the love of Weather, if you have socks, put them on; this is not a drill. And while it's not a storm, please tip your food delivery people generously because they are doing the hard work for you!

Featured in News