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Officials Urge Caution As Potentially Record Low Temps Again Hit Tri-State Area

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Are you over winter yet? If so, Mother Nature says tough.

Another blast of Arctic air will move into the Tri-State area Thursday, sending temperatures plummeting to potentially record-breaking lows.

A wind chill advisory is in effect from midnight until 10 a.m. Friday for New York City and the surrounding suburbs, Long Island, coastal Connecticut and much of northeast New Jersey.

CHECK: Forecast & Alerts | Cold Weather Safety Tips

Forecasters say it will turn windy and bitterly cold Thursday night with a low of 4, which would break the Central Park record of 7 set for the date in 1950. With the wind chill, it will feel like 10 to 20 below zero in some spots in the city, and 20 to 35 below to the north and west, CBS2's Lonnie Quinn reported.

The cold weather has been taking its toll on many New Yorkers.

"It's so cold, I can't take it anymore," 6-year-old Crown Heights resident Dahliana Diaz, who is ditching the city with her mom for a long weekend away, told CBS2's Janelle Burrell.

But as CBS2's Matt Kozar reported, the beautiful great outdoors is actually fascinating for some. Dr. Laszlo Mihaly of Stony Brook University uses the bitter elements as his laboratory.

"Put a little ice crystal, and see it freezes," he explained as he demonstrated the progression of ice formation. "Ice crystals grow and they grow downwards…. It's just beautiful."

He also demonstrated what happens to a T-shirt when it gets wet and freezes over. The wet T-shirt was frozen solid in just a few minutes – showing why people who fall into icy waters need to move fast.

Mihaly also took a hammer to a lemon that had been frozen solid. The lemon shattered to pieces as if it were made of glass.

"It's very important to understand that the cold weather alone is not always the problem, but the combination of wind and cold is really what we are facing now," Mihaly said.

Indeed, despite the whimsical elements of Mihaly's demonstrations, the deep freeze is serious and dangerous.

"You shouldn't do what I'm doing right now, I mean, I'm pretty cold because I don't have a hat and that isn't a very heavy jacket," said a less-than-perfectly-bundled Donny Wombough.

"Think positive about it, because complaining sure won't change the temperature one bit," added Patrick Leahy.

The cold was already causing problems late Thursday for a variety of means of transportation – particularly those of a maritime nature.

On the Hudson River, ferry teams have been using tugboats to break up the ice and have them on standby ahead of Friday's frigid temperatures. But the boats still had to navigate through the ice floes.

"It can be a bit scary at times," said Erin Smith of Edgewater, New Jersey. "The boat will shake a lot, and it's almost like it's struggling. It's going so much slower."

Meanwhile, riders had to plan their commute down to the minute. Customers got text messages warning of delays even though the tugboats were out trying to clear a path, CBS2's Weijia Jiang reported.

"We left work about an hour and a half ago and we're still trying to make it home, but we want to be safe," said Lynette Mitchell of Jersey City. "Better safe than sorry."

"It's a little depressing this time of year," another man told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck. "Can't wait for the spring."

The bitter blast also caused trouble all through the evening Thursday on the rails. A bridge in Kearny, New Jersey was stuck, and so many Amtrak riders waited in a crowded Penn Station for nearly an hour.

Overhead wire problems also halted some NJ TRANSIT lines Thursday evening.

"It's really frustrating, because you want to get home," said Amtrak customer David Fields. "I don't want to get home at midnight."

And the Friday morning commute may be worse. The Long Island Rail Road will keep waiting rooms open 24-7, but many stations don't even have waiting rooms.

"Having to wait for the train on the platform is cold, bitter, so you can't get there too early," said George Garcia of Long Branch.

A cold weather plan is also in place for the subway system. Trains will be stored underground overnight, planned service changes are canceled, and some trains will change their stops.

Commuters worry the cold could create problems they have seen before, such as broken rails. A Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman said de-icing machines and torches are ready to go in case the tracks freeze.

Meanwhile, the dangerously cold temperatures prompted the New York City Office of Emergency Management to issue a cold weather alert, urging New Yorkers to be careful during the extreme cold weather.

New Yorkers Brave Bitter Cold

"The best way to deal with the cold weather is to stay indoors. It's going to get dangerously cold on Thursday night and you don't want to be outdoors if you don't have to be," Commissioner Joseph Esposito said in a statement. "Use common sense – if you have to be outdoors, bundle up. Don't take these temperatures lightly."

Officials say if you do have to go outside, wear warm clothing, cover exposed skin and dress in layers. And because most of your body heat is lost through your head, be sure to wear a hat, hood or scarf.

And when you come home, hope that you don't find a frozen house.

As CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reported, a home in Kearny had ice in the radiator, ice hanging from the radiator, and ice in the toilet too.

According to Paul Dioguardi, President of Arlington Plumbing and Heating, a failed boiler and the bitter cold made for a costly combo.

"We could easily be looking at $50,000 in a place like this," he said.

Dioguardi said this has been one of the worst seasons that he has worked through.

"The wind chills have been getting to piping that's never seen problems," he explained.

He also suggested opening up cabinet doors to allow warm air in, and running a slow stream of water from spickets to close out the cold.

Some other tips:

- Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning and never use gas appliances like ranges, ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home. You should also never use a generator, grill or camp stove inside a home, garage or basement and never run a car or truck in a garage or enclosed area.

- Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning includes headaches, fatigue, nausea and drowsiness and sometimes your pets will show symptoms first. If more than one person in your family is showing symptoms, call 911.

- Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Electric space heaters are the only kind of legal space heater in New York City and should turn off automatically when tipped over.

- Before going to bed or leaving home, turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished.

- Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.

- Make sure you have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

For more information, check out New York City's OEM winter weather page or visit the Red Cross at

Frozen Pipes Keeping Plumbers Busy

The bitter cold has also been keeping those in the plumbing and heating industries busy with frozen and burst water pipes, with many reporting twice the usual number of emergency calls.

"We have thawing machines and we have to basically thaw out the pipes in sections and then we add antifreeze to the systems," Gary Brenan of Quality Heating in Sayville told WCBS 880's Mike Xirinachs."

Snow showers are set to return Saturday with a mixed bag of precipitation at night. Sunday will bring mixed precipitation and rain, but also a possible return of the tropical-seeming 40s.

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