Bus riders dressed warmer, outdoor workers moved faster and HVAC companies worked overtime as South Jersey dealt with a bitter cold front that arrived Tuesday and is forecast to last the rest of the week.
The National Weather Service recorded a high of 22 degrees Fahrenheit at the Antlic City Airport in Egg Harbor Township but with wind chill people felt single digit temperatures throughout the day. The normal temperature for the day is 41 degrees and the record low is 3 degrees back in 1970.
“It’s much colder compared to last year,” said Lucia Mercado with her hands in her pockets Wednesday, eyes scanning Pacific Avenue for a jitney.
“This year has been the worst ... but that’s my jitney! My jitney is coming!” she said smiling, edging toward the curb.
Temperatures will remain 10 to 15 degrees below average through the weekend, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick O'Hara.
"Temperatures around this time of year, average highs are around 40 and average lows are around 25," he said. "We're about 10 degrees below that at least. Pomona was down to 10 degrees (Wednesday morning)."
The cold weather may also bring snow. The service is forecasting snow for Friday afternoon, possibly into Saturday morning. Total accumulation in the area could be one to two inches.
O'Hara said that temperatures should return to normal next week.
"It's been a very warm winter so far," he said. "This is really our first cold snap of the winter. Since it's coming to an end, it only lasted a few days, that's not too far out of what normal is for winter."
The cold weather prompted Atlantic City to declare a code blue on Tuesday, warning homeless residents to seek shelter through Saturday.
Tom Davidson, director of development for the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, said they continued to have about 400 people at the center on Bacharach Boulevard on Wednesday — about 100 more than usual.
The center is supplying people with clothes, meals and a place to sleep, and Davidson said the people are mostly staying put during the day since it's too cold to remain outside for very long. The mission is providing some programs to keep people occupied, he said.
Others who had to be outside Wednesday made sure to be prepared.
Dan Kiernan was working as a rod man on a two-man land-surveying crew on Pacific Avenue. Kiernan held a long measuring rod. His partner, across the street, used the rod for perspective in his measurements.
Kiernan, of Dixon Associates in Galloway Township, said they spend 7 or 8 hours outside. Tuesday and Wednesday felt colder than any days he can remeber from the last few years.
“Not fun,” he said. “Twenty degrees and 20 mile an hour winds? not fun, but you gotta do it.”
And what’s even less fun? When Kiernan and his partner switch jobs.
“This job is better right now, because he’s got to write,” he said. “I just keep my hands in my pockets and move. He’s got to write. And that is not fun.”
The only relief comes when they finish a measurement run. They get to sit in the truck for 10 minutes to make calculations.
“We were just in our car doing our numbers and I said, ‘Remember last year? How great it was? It was 40 or 45, we were like woo-hoo.’ Now we’re paying for it,” he said.
Andrew Parker, owner of the Atlantic City-based HVAC company Aire Serv, said a combination of Sandy damage and the current cold snap has kept him busy.
“We’ve got six calls and we’re back up now,” he said Wednesday morning.
All winter Aire Serv has been busy fixing Sandy-damaged heating systems.
“There is still a lot of work to be done just from that,” he said. “As it gets colder, there’s going to be a lot of service calls, and things are going to be breaking down, but for people who are already affected, it’s going to be a double whammy for them.”
Parker said that any furnaces with water damage need to be changed out. Anyone with waterlogged duct work, to avoid potential mold build-up, should not turn their heat on.
Last winter, because of the warm weather, was less busy, Parker said. And because fewer people serviced their heating systems last year, he said, more people are having problems this year.
“Typically the first cold snap, that’s when things start happening, because people start using their furnaces more,” he said.
The cold wetaher has also brought warnings from local agencies. Residents are asked to check in on their pets and not alolow them to be outside when possible. The Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority said residents should keep one faucet running the width of a straw to keep the pipes from freezing.
The cold also had an effect on city firefighters who responded to a house fire on North Ohio Avenue Wednesday. Chief Dennis Brooks said they had extra firefighters to respond to relieve people affected by the cold.
“It makes you slow down more,” he said.
Throughout the day, residents managed with the cold.
Ricky Rivera, waiting for the 505 bus from Atlantic City to Longport on Atlantic Avenue, said Wednesday’s temperature wasn’t bad.
“(Tuesday) was the worst I’ve felt in a couple years,” he said.
He said the secret is to dress properly. Timing is also key, he said.
“You’ve got to time your bus right. What are you going to, sit out on the corner freezing? This stuff doesn’t do anything for you,” he said, gesturing at the bus shelter. “It doesn’t cover anything up.”
Candy Ortiz, and her daughter Yamilee Ortiz, were also waiting for the 505 in hats and coats. Candy had a doctor’s appointment in Longport.
“I can’t wait for summer,” Yamilee said.
Staff Writer Joel Landau contributed to this story.
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