Bitter Cold Freezes Tri-State Residents

And it won't get much warmer tomorrow

Wednesday, Feb 9, 2011  |  Updated 12:37 PM EDT
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From meteorologist <a title=Domenica Davis." />

From meteorologist Domenica Davis.

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Bitter cold temperatures and bone-chilling winds froze the noses and fingertips of tri-state residents who dared to walk outside without adequate protective gear this morning.

Early temperatures only made it into the teens in and around most of the city, but the wind chills made it feel like the single digits.

Some good news may warm up frigid commuters despite the bitter cold: There's now snow in the forecast for the first Wednesday in four weeks.

Still, temperatures will remain blistery cold for the next few days. Today's high is expected to hit only 28 degrees while Thursday's high will likely reach only 29. The weather looks warmer for the weekend, however, has temperatures rise to the mid and high 30's by week's end. By Monday and Tuesday, we may even hit the mid 40s, forecasters predict. 

Although there won't be snow this week, the blast of frigid air expected to sweep across the region Wednesday portends a new round of hazards as freshly melted snow freezes again and coats roads and walkways with a fresh layer of ice.

At Hartford Hospital in Connecticut's capital, about two dozen people have been treated in the past week alone after falling off roofs and ladders while trying to clear snow. Others have lost fingers in snow-blower accidents, a few have suffered heart attacks while shoveling, and some have been sidelined with broken limbs after slipping on ice.

"We've seen this before, but never in these huge numbers," said Dr. A.J. Smally, the hospital's emergency department director. "It's an epidemic."

Among the Northeastern casualties is Sean Hansell of Valley Stream, N.Y., who told The Associated Press that he twisted his neck Tuesday as he tried to recover his balance while slipping on a patch of ice during his daily walk to a Long Island train station.

"Oh irony," he posted on Twitter. "As I'm admiring all the melting snow, I slip on some ice and tweak my neck. Ow."

The injuries have mounted with each big storm in a season that not even two months in has already buried many Eastern cities with far more snow than they typically see all winter. But in some cases, one man's loss is a chiropractor's gain.

An office in Hackensack, N.J., reported more patients that usual this year as people revive old aches and pains while shoveling snow.

"People are forgetting to bend their knees," said Jo Ann Gouveia, the office manager at Advanced Health Care.

It's true that the East's relentless snow and ice storms have increased the risk of health problems, including asthma attacks, heart attacks, falls and car crashes, said Wallace Carter, associate medical director of emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Before last week's ice storm, he noted, the New York area had already suffered through nine snowstorms.

"The collective risk to the population is nine times greater than it was if you have one snowstorm," Carter said.

And as the risk for injuries has jumped, supplies of a critical necessity have dropped nationwide: blood donations.

The American Red Cross says that from Jan. 1 through Feb. 1, it missed out on more than 19,000 blood donations it had expected to get. It blames blood drives scheduled for schools, businesses and community events that were postponed because of the weather.

"This storm is not going to help the situation," spokeswoman Laura Howe said as the Midwest was hammered by snow recently. "As soon as we get the blood products in the door, they go back out."

With more than another month of winter to go, conditions aren't expected to improve soon.

A cold front will send temperatures plunging into the single digits across much of the Northeast on Wednesday and create icy, treacherous conditions on untreated roads and sidewalks, said Charlie Foley, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Taunton, Mass.

"Where there's any melting today — and there is melting — it's going to freeze," he said.

As always, check back with NBCNewYork for up-to-the-minute weather forecasts and the latest information on school closings, snow removal and transit service.

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