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Thermometer at HS construction site (left) and
Thermometer in local back yard (right)
before 9 a.m. on January 18, 2000.
Get used to it.
Although the winds will fade, the cold is here for the
remainder of the week. Forecasts call for temperatures to rise above freezing just once
this week -- Thursday, when snow is expected.
The cold weather didn't break any records, but it did
bring misery to many.
Folks in Westwood woke up Monday to the 4-degree
temperature. The mercury read 6 degrees in Hawthorne. The low in Newark was 8 degrees.
Wind speeds of 20 to 30 mph resulted in wind chill advisories of 15 to 25 below zero
throughout most of the state for the day, according to the National Weather Service.
"This is right on schedule," said Bob Ziff, a
spokesman for the North Jersey Weather Observers -- a group that records temperatures
throughout Bergen and Passaic counties. "People may not like it, but we usually get
cold air and storms this time of year."
The winds brought down tree limbs and power lines, the
cold burst pipes and knocked out car batteries, and the frigid air made it dangerous to
stay outdoors for long periods. Luckily, many residents throughout New Jersey were able to
stay home from work Monday, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.
Not all were so fortunate.
Matt Biagini of Vernon, Robert Berkhofer of Saddle Brook,
and Tim Merriman of Airmont, N.Y., were part of a United Water work crew clearing debris
from the frozen Oradell reservoir Monday. Using pitchforks and rakes, the intrepid men
dragged debris from the frozen waters as the wind slashed at their faces.
"If it gets too brutal, we take a cold break,"
said Biagini, who was wearing four layers of clothing under his coat. "We sit in the
truck, warm up a little, and drink coffee."
Plumbers working outdoors at the site of Bergen County's
new administration building in Hackensack built shelters from tool boxes and used portable
heaters to provide a defense against the cold, but it did little to stop the winds.
"The wind is really bad today," said Tom Austin,
who was clad in three sweaters, a flannel shirt, and a coat. "It's dangerous too. It
blows ladders over."
Flying debris was only part of the problem Monday. The
biting cold posed dangers of its own.
Although hospitals in the area did not report any cases of
frostbite Monday, doctors warned of the dangers from prolonged exposure to the severe
"If you have to go out, layer up and stay dry,"
said Dr. Joseph Feldman, vice chairman of the emergency trauma department at Hackensack
University Medical Center. "Don't drink alcohol, it makes you colder. Drink warm
fluids. It's an old wives' tale to drink something cold."
Frostnip, the precursor to frostbite, can develop in as
few as two hours, Feldman said. The warning signs include blanched and painful skin on
fingers, toes, and earlobes. The condition is reversible by quickly warming the affected
"It's better to rapidly re-warm than to slowly
re-warm," Feldman said, adding that immersion in warm water is an effective method of
Signs of frostbite, a more serious condition that could
result in limb loss, include skin that has turned from blanched to wooden and hard, and
extremities that have lost feeling.
In Passaic County, frigid temperatures proved too much for
some water pipes and displaced five families in Wayne after a sprinkler line burst,
flooding their homes at the Four Seasons condominium complex.
At North Haledon's High Mountain School, the drinking
fountains were off-limits Monday, one day after a nearby pipe burst open. Principal Donna
Cardiello said she was uncertain if the water will be safe for drinking today, but said
there is plenty of bottled water on hand for thirsty students.
And AAA North Jersey, which serves Bergen, Passaic, and
Hudson counties, said it received nearly double the usual number of calls for a Monday --
nearly 1,800 -- mostly reports of dead car batteries.
"We have been very busy," said David L. Hughes,
executive vice president of AAA North Jersey. "Mondays are normally our busiest day
in winter because cars sit all weekend."
Winds also took their toll on electric service throughout
the state, with PSE&G reporting about 2,000 customers who lost power Sunday night.
"There will probably be the same kind of scattered
problems throughout the day," PSE&G spokeswoman Kathy Ellis said Monday.
"Never assume we know [about a power outage in your area]. Don't be reticent to call
if your power goes out."
The cold is also spawning an increase in insurance claims.
At State Farm Insurance Companies, the nation's largest
insurer, spokesman Chris Neal said they received 50 claims for wind-related damage and 30
for water-related damage just from Friday to Monday in New Jersey.
"The trigger is really 20 degrees. When we see
sustained temperatures below 20 degrees, the pipes start freezing," Neal said.
"If we see another two or three days of this, we'd expect literally hundreds of
frozen pipe claims throughout the state."
Staff Writer Dan Kraut contributed to this article.