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Powerful Snow Squall Socks New York As Polar Vortex Settles In Across Tri-State Area

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A powerful snow squall socked the Tri-State area Wednesday afternoon, bringing extreme cold on its heels.

The polar vortex is bringing a blast of bitter air to the Tri-State area, with the system already blamed for at least six deaths across the country.

MORE: CBS2's Winter Survival Guide | Latest Forecast & Alerts

MORE: What Is A Polar Vortex?

Heavy wind gusts of 37 mph were recorded during the squall, and the intense snowfall - though brief - made conditions on the roads and streets hazardous.

Videos posted to social media showed the impact of the squall.

A wind advisory was in effect until 7 p.m., followed by a wind chill advisory from 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. with gusts up to 50 miles an hour are possible.

Watch: Mayor Bill de Blasio On Storm Preparations

Elizabeth Benitez spoke with CBS2 while she waited for the bus in Astoria Wednesday.

"Like knives piercing through your skin. It's really, really cold," she said.

Watch: CBSN New York's John Dias At The Moment The Squall Hit

"Freezing," a man added.

Other commuters on an elevated subway platform said the wind had them rethinking their attire.

"Realizing how cold it actually is right now, I'm kind of regretting my decision," said Mark Derose.

"Earmuffs are good. I wish I had a hat," another man added.

Watch: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Gives Storm Briefing 

Salt trucks are making their rounds to prevent icing on city streets, and the parks department is doing the same on sidewalks.

If you think commuting to work in the cold is bad, imagine having to work in it all day, like parks employee Linda Miller.

"I'm thermaled down. I have on sweaters, jackets, coats – and keep a sense of humor," she said.

She's in for more of the same Thursday when temperatures plunge even lower.

"Oh gosh, I'm not even prepared for it, but another day another dollar," she said.

The New York City Housing Authority has activated its situation room in Queens and opened a warming center in every borough from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the rest of the week. It's also added additional heating response teams and staffing at its customer contact center.

Several flights were cancelled at airports across the country, and the MTA and NJ TRANSIT are preparing for the worst.

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