During a February 12 press conference at City Hall, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio had a simple demand for residents over Presidents’ Day weekend: “Stay indoors.”
That’s because, he said, the temperature in New York is expected to hit “near-record lows and remain dangerous through the weekend.”
Temperatures dropped to around 8 degrees overnight and are expected to hover around 16 degrees through tonight and tomorrow. But on Sunday night, shit gets real, as temperatures are forecast to plummet to near zero, with wind chills as low as -20.
“So this is serious stuff,” de Blasio warned. “Please check on your neighbors. This will be bitterly, bitterly cold.”
The city is expecting light snow, but during the press conference de Blasio — hot beverage in hand — promised that the Department of Sanitation will have 424 salt spreaders and 1,600 plows at the ready.
De Blasio said the city remains in contact with the National Weather Service — that would be the federal agency that served up the current dangerous weather warning.
Earlier this year, the NWS and de Blasio warned New Yorkers of a brutal blizzard bearing down on NYC. The city and state instituted 11 p.m. travel bans throughout the city and surrounding area. When the satirical news site The Onion delivered a joke story about de Blasio’s doomsday prophecies, the mayor responded in good humor with a dramatic reading of the piece.
Only eight inches fell in the city — less than half the amount meteorologists forecast, which led some to criticize the federal and municipal bodies for overreacting.
So it’s hard to blame de Blasio for playing it safe and taking the cold road this Presidents’ Day weekend.
“If you’re having a heat and hot-water problem, call 311 right now. Do not wait,” he said. “What the city does is immediately pushes the landlord to fix the problem, and depending on the circumstance, if the landlord is not moving fast enough, we fix it and charge the landlord. But we can’t do it if we don’t know about it.”
Extra outreach workers and vans will be responding to city 311 calls, he said, and homeless shelters will be on a “code blue” — meaning that homeless people can sleep in any shelter without going through the usual red tape.
“They can walk into any of our shelters,” de Blasio said. “It’s a no-questions-asked situation.”