| Thomas Mangrum bundled up in his Statue of Liberty costume as he held a sign advertising Liberty Tax Service on Thursday in Brooklyn. |
"It's been brutal out here," Mr. Mangrum said. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times
February 27, 2015 - NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - It will end. Allegedly.
It will get warmer. One day. Someday.
We have reached the 69th day of winter. It seems like the 6,669th. Pretty much the same nonsense is reprised day after day. Miserable, punishing, obnoxious, teeth-rattling, bone-numbing weather. Unmitigated, merciless, are-you-kidding-me cold.
New Yorkers cannot recall the last time they walked with their eyes trained forward, rather than watching for ice patches waiting to send them flying, which leaves them vulnerable to ice sliding off buildings from above. And in the evenings the snowplows screech past, drowning out the television in the middle of a Letterman cold joke.
WATCH: Winter doesn't want to end.
Throughout the parks, on the edges of sidewalks, ice just sits with defiant, assertive permanency. It will not melt, just keeps getting icier and more discolored. The whole city feels like a giant ice cube. People lean into the wind, pull hard to get doors open, to get out of this weather already, as the whistling wind pushes back.
As it limps away, February will not be missed. With the average temperature for the month lingering around 24 degrees, some 11 degrees shy of normal by the National Weather Service’s calculation, this insult of a month looks as though it will clock in as the coldest recorded February in New York City since 1934. That is 81 years of weather. That is all the way back to the Depression, when there were so many more dire things to worry about than whether 7-Eleven had salt or whose turn it was to walk the dog.
That year, February averaged 19.9 degrees and included the lowest daily reading ever registered for New York: On Feb. 9 the mercury sank to a ridiculous 15 degrees below zero.
“It was like the most sick month you can think of,” said Jay Engle, a meteorologist with the Weather Service who was well aware that this February had been particularly ill. Aside from 1934, he said the only other chillier February on record than the present one was in 1885, when the temperature averaged 22.7 degrees and when people did not yet have hand warmers.
Sure, the entire East Coast has been beaten up. Sure, Boston was slammed. But it’s still give-me-a-break cold in New York.
Shawn Nicholls, 34, who works in book publishing in the financial district, spoke for much of the populace when he declared understatedly, “I’m getting tired of it.”
The numbing weather has extinguished his night life. A resident of Kensington, Brooklyn, Mr. Nicholls customarily is found in restaurants on weekends. “But this winter I’m giving the delivery guys a workout,” he said.
It has been so cold that it is cold in places where it is not usually cold. Like subway platforms. It has been so cold people feel as if they are under house arrest on their days off. It has been so cold that you need so much time to pile on the layers of clothing and then time to remove the layers when you get there that you need to factor in extra hours for all the body enclosure work. It has been so cold that children want to be home-schooled.
It is warmer in a meat locker.
Every day, another war against hat hair, the pathetically flattened nest that makes you look really weird when you give your PowerPoint presentation before the boss.
There is positive news. It appears that alternate-side-of-the-street parking regulations have been abolished. And, of course, some people actually relish the cold. It pumps them up. Makes them feel alive.
The North Pole still has room for them.
So, while huddled cross-legged before the space heater, everyone has a story to tell, something dusted with snow or icicles or sinful cold.
The woman in Midtown Manhattan who was wearing four hats, topped by a sombrero, presumably willing to accept an onset of hat hair.
The toddler walking mitten in mitten with her mother, inquiring, “Mommy, why isn’t the heat working outside?”
The couple on their way to a restaurant for dinner.
He: “Why are we going out in this weather?”
She: “Because there’s no food in the house, smart guy. It’s too cold to shop.”
He: “So why isn’t it too cold to go out to eat?”
|A seagull walking along a pier next to a frozen portion of the East River this week. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times|
She: “Don’t start.”
The cold brings about peculiar decisions. Ariadna Urbina, 21, of Corona, Queens, is a student who has been hunting for work. Her preference had been an art gallery, but she found it impossible to put on nice clothes and then add the multiple layers necessary to combat the cold. So the other day she was on her way to apply to be a waitress.
“People ask you to dress professionally, but you can’t dress professionally,” she said. “I’m sick of it.”
Stories happen in emergency rooms, one place where winter shows its malevolence.
Dr. John Marshall, the head of emergency medicine at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, said his hospital was averaging 336 patients a day this winter, 20 more than last winter. On Jan. 19, he saw something unlike anything he had seen before. In a single hour, 30 people showed up after having slipped on ice, most of them with wrist and arm fractures, with some ankles thrown in.
“We had a whole family of seven come in with carbon monoxide poisoning,” Dr. Marshall said. They are all right.
Add to it flu patients, pneumonia patients, people with psychiatric issues linked to the cold. Sledding accidents. Heart attacks from shoveling snow.
An alcoholic who is a “frequent flier” at the emergency room, ranking as one of its top three visitors, was brought in a few weeks ago nearly frozen to death, his body temperature down to 82 degrees. The hospital thawed him out. He has since returned several more times. He might lose a toe.
“I don’t know that I’ve seen any snowball lacerations this year, but we get them,” Dr. Marshall said. “And I haven’t seen any icicle stabbings.”
As for himself, Dr. Marshall is unfazed by the weather. He is from Michigan. “I’ve always liked a good winter,” he said. “It’s my favorite season. I only wish there was a bit more snow.”
Has he made any concessions to the cold? “I’ve worn a scarf a couple of times,” he said.
Want an awful winter job? Talk to Ralph Valdez. He shivers on sidewalks for hours at a time, hawking tickets for bus tours of Manhattan.
Mr. Valdez, 36, has been at this for a decade. This crushing winter has really done a number on him. Since Christmas, he has called in sick, he believes, something like seven times. Last winter, which was hardly balmy, he called in sick three times.
“I have a torn rotator cuff, and it really, really starts to hurt when it gets cold,” he said, standing in downtown Manhattan. He wore a scarf and jacket over a hooded sweatshirt, and also remembered thermal underwear.
“If you’re going to be outside, you got to go for the thermals,” he pointed out, unnecessarily.
Bogdan Lekan, 50, a pediatrician, tossed salt chunks on the ice in front of his office door on 67th Avenue in Queens. Stethoscope dangling around his neck, he kicked at the crumbling ice with his leather shoes, which instantly became soaked.
“If this happens through April — wow,” he said. “I have a 3-year-old in the house who is anxious to go out.”
Now a new month beckons. March, often a roller-coaster month, is not always charitable with its weather either. But it represents a dash of hope. The forecast for Monday in New York City is for the temperature to crawl into the 40s. It has to get warmer someday. - NY Times.