NEW YORK (PIX11) — A cold day in the New York region got even colder overnight on Friday. With wind chills ranging from the single digits to below zero in the tri-state region, medical experts warn that the extreme cold has to be taken seriously.

An expert who tracks weather extremes over time agrees, but also points out that the region has seen much worse. Still, the deep freeze is bad enough to cause hazardous conditions, as Dr. Nyle Khan, an attending physician in the Long Island Jewish Medical Center Emergency Department, told PIX11 News.

“Right now we see people with falls, cold exposures and the like,” he said.  

When temperatures plummet to the teens and below, as is the case in the tri-state currently, one condition becomes common, said Dr. Khan.

“Something called frost nip,” he said. “Hands lose their color, become a little numb.”

One New Yorker, Anthony Young, was experiencing just that. He spoke with PIX11 News as he walked past Bryant Park. He showed his hands, which looked somewhat pale. 

“They feel numb a little bit,” he said. He was steps away from the Bryant Park subway entrance, where he said he was headed, and was looking forward to relief on a heated train.  

Without getting out of the cold, or fully covering exposed skin, Dr. Khan said, frostbite eventually sets in.
The cold was intense enough on Friday to freeze bodies of water. In Central Park, The Pond, the Harlem Meer and The Lake all had large sheets of ice on them.

In Baisley Pond Park, in Queens, two people ventured out onto the ice, and went under. FDNY Firefighter John Fils Aime and Probationary Firefighter Conor O’Malley donned their cold water rescue suits, and pulled the people out of the frigid water. The firefighters’ work was lauded by the department.

It is cold, to be sure, but Rob Frydlewicz, the weather historian who curates the New York City Weather Archive said that conditions have been worse in the past.

“On this very date in 1985, it was two below zero,” he said in an interview. “In 1994, on January 19, it was also two below.  We haven’t had any temperature that cold since,” he said.

Frydlewicz also pointed out that this winter not has been, from a historical perspective, “terribly cold.”  

“December was one of the mildest on record. We had almost no snow,” he said.

By contrast, he continued, January has been “colder than average.”

“And then, who knows what February has in store,” he said, givimg a warning about what could happen during the shortest month of the year, from an historical perspective. “Six years ago, in February, on Valentine’s Day, it was one below zero.”