Tag Archives: winter

Birds flock to winter hot spot Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Queens County Bird Club

Queens isn’t just the world’s borough. It’s also the birds’ borough.

Birds migrating south for the winter stop in Queens, using the borough’s numerous parks as a rest stop. Other birds, like the snow owl, dig in for the winter and stay in New York City for the season. Witnessing it all are the bird watchers of the Queens County Bird Club.

Bird watching – or birding, to use the hobby’s parlance – is a common practice in Queens, according to Arie Gilbert, president of the Queens County Bird Club. As the season nears winter, leaves falling from trees give parks a desolate, dead look, but they reveal many types of birds that won’t be found in warmer months. Gilbert’s club makes many trips to Alley Pond Park, Kissena Park, Forest Park and, of course, Gilbert said, Jamaica Bay.

“For anybody who even has a passing knowledge of birding knows about Queens and Jamaica Bay,” Gilbert said. “People from all over the world come to New York City to go to Jamaica Bay.”

In these hot spots, people will be able to see birds like the Iceland gull, the great-horned owl and the wood duck.

Along with bird watching trips, the club plans on holding a lecture on Nov. 19 that will help bird watchers identify and note the subtle difference in subspecies like those found in sparrows.

“Birding is not like football. It doesn’t have the same appeal,” Gilbert said. “But it’s a lot of fun being outdoors.”

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Queens pols hold coat drive with nonprofit New York Cares


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Costa Constantinides' Office

With the winter still in full force, a group of elected officials are making sure those in need across the city are staying warm.

Together, Councilmember Costa Constantinides, Senator Michael Gianaris, and Assemblymembers Aravella Simotas and Michael DenDekker have collected a total of about 100 coats at their district offices for people in need across the city.

“It is important during this cold season that we provide help to those in need,” said Constantinides. “It’s an honor to work with a great organization like New York Cares. My colleagues in the state government and I look forward to collecting warm coats for those who need it most.”

The lightly-used winter coats were donated by members of the communities surrounding the district offices and the gathering of coats is in collaboration with the nonprofit New York Cares.

“Having recently experienced record low temperatures, I know we all appreciate the dangers freezing weather poses to our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Gianaris. “Let’s work together to keep our fellow New Yorkers warm this winter.”

 

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Groundhogs see shadows, predict six more weeks of winter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office's Flickr

Get ready to bundle up because winter is here to stay, according to the nation’s two most famous groundhogs.

Both Charles G. Hogg, also known as “Staten Island Chuck,” and Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil saw their shadows Sunday morning predicting six more weeks of cold weather.

Photo courtesy of Punxsutawney Phil’s Facebook Page

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James celebrated in Staten Island for the city’s Groundhog Day celebrations.

De Blasio did not get a warm response from the audience when he said Staten Island Chuck “likes the polar vortex” after the prediction was made.

He also did not receive a friendly response from Chuck, who de Blasio dropped as he was trying to hold him during the ceremony.

It wasn’t the first time the groundhog had an awkward encounter with a New York City mayor. In 2009, he bit then-mayor Michael Bloomberg’s finger.

 

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Op-ed: Stay safe – and warm – this winter


| oped@queenscourier.com

 SALVATORE J. CASSANO

More than a third of all serious fires in New York City happen during the winter months, when people often resort to unsafe measures, as they attempt to heat their homes and stay warm. As a result, there are many preventable fires resulting in unnecessary loss of life and property.

Some fires are caused by unattended open flames, such as decorative or commemorative candles, fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. They should never be left unattended and you should always extinguish them completely before going to bed at night.

Other fires are caused by electric heating equipment and the devices used in conjunction with them, like extension cords and power strips. Portable space heaters and electric blankets can be extremely dangerous if they are poorly maintained, inappropriately powered, or – in the case of space heaters – placed too close to combustible objects. You should not purchase these products, or any power strips or extension cords unless they are Underwriters’ Laboratory (UL) approved and have the UL mark. You should also periodically check the integrity of these products to ensure that they don’t become too worn or damaged for use.

Most importantly, every home should have working smoke alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors. These devices save lives. We know this because in nearly 80 percent of the fire deaths in recent years, the Fire Department found no working smoke alarm present.

We have made education about the importance of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms a cornerstone of our Fire Safety Education (FSE) effort. Teams of Fire Safety Educators conduct hundreds of information sessions each year throughout the city, reaching about 600,000 New Yorkers every year, and at the same time they distribute hundreds of thousands of free smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries and tens of thousands of detectors.

During the last year we’ve focused our fire safety efforts on communities impacted by Sandy, because of the many problems associated with the storm in these areas. Dozens of serious fires occurred both during and in the aftermath of the storm, as salt water impacted home electrical systems, and residents in these areas resorted to unconventional and even dangerous ways of heating and powering their homes. This winter, through the Hurricane Sandy Fire Safe Program, Fire Safety Educators have been reaching out to older New Yorkers in areas of Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island that were hit hardest by the storm, hosting educational events, visiting homes to conduct fire safety reviews and discuss fire safety exit plans, and installing smoke, carbon monoxide and hard-of-hearing alarms.

The FDNY has done an extraordinary job in reducing the number of fatal fires in New York City in the last decade – which has been overall the safest in nearly a century of recordkeeping. But, even one death by fire is too many – so, our goal and commitment is to do everything possible to protect everyone from the danger of fires and that starts with prevention.

Please do your part in protecting yourself and your family by adhering to these basic winter fire safety tips, which can be viewed in full at: on.nyc.gov/JhUFjt.

Remember – working smoke detectors save lives! Please make sure you have them in your home!

Salvatore J. Cassano is New York City’s 32nd Fire Commissioner

 

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Hercules flexing his muscles in first storm of 2014


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Updated Friday, January 3, 7:05 a.m.

The year is starting out with a shot of nasty weather that is predicted to bring near-blizzard conditions to the city.

Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a statewide state of emergency Thursday afternoon to prepare officials for winter storm Hercules, which is forecasted to bring five to nine inches of snow to the city.

“To ensure an effective and rapid response to this winter storm, I am declaring a statewide state of emergency, so resources can get to communities where they are needed as quickly as possible,” he said.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a winter storm warning until 1 p.m. Friday.

Cuomo also announced the Long Island Expressway will be closed from midnight to 8 a.m. on Friday from the Queens/Nassau County border and east. The Northern State Parkway and all MTA bridges and tunnels will remain open.

“As this winter storm unfolds, bringing heavy snow and high winds to many parts of the state, I strongly urge all New Yorkers to exercise caution, avoid travel and stay indoors,” he said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio emphasized the “forecast could change at any moment.”

“That’s why it’s so important for everyone to pay close attention to updates in the coming hours,” he said at his administration’s first press conference Thursday evening.

Alternate side parking has been suspended Friday to facilitate with snow removal, but payment at parking meters remains in effect.

All express subway service will run local for the start of the morning rush hour, until all stored trains are moved from the express tracks. Riders should expect delays on city buses due to the weather. The Long Island Rail Road is operating on a weekend schedule effective 12:01 a.m. Friday. The Metro-North is running on a reduced schedule after 8  p.m. Thursday, and a Saturday schedule on Friday. To see any additional MTA service changes, click here.

The weather is also affecting air travel. All flights at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) were suspended as of about 6:12 a.m., but the airport will remain open. Flights could resume in a couple of hours, said the FAA. Thousands of flights have reportedly been canceled across the country Friday, and travelers are urged to check with their carriers before heading to the airport.

City officials have no plan to close specific streets yet, but will monitor that need as the storm progresses, de Blasio said.

The City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has put 2,300 workers on 12-hour shifts, and 1,700 trucks with snow plows will be deployed once two inches of snow hit the ground. To track the progress of DSNY clearing operations throughout the five boroughs, click here.

Kew Gardens and South Ozone Park had accumulated more than 5 inches of snow as of 4 a.m., according to NWS.

Senior centers throughout the city will be closed through Friday, and de Blasio urged city residents to keep a close eye on the homeless population.

Joe Bruno, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) commissioner, said the NYPD, FDNY, EMS and other emergency officials will “work around the clock until this is over.”

OEM has issued a hazardous travel advisory for Friday, and is warning motorists to drive slowly, monitor weather and traffic, use major streets or highways, and have the name and number of at least one local towing service.

Temperatures will be blustery, with a high Friday of 17 and low around 8. Wind chill, however, could make the weather feel as cold as 10 below zero, de Blasio said.

Borough residents hit grocery stores and gas stations Thursday afternoon to prepare for the impending storm. People were piling into the Waldbaums on Francis Lewis Boulevard just “picking up extras,” but said “the crazies” would be sure to clear the shelves in the hours to come.

“I’m getting extras just in case,” said Anita Oberwiler, who anticipated frantic shoppers to come rushing through as the afternoon pressed on.

 

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Shadows are no-shows, groundhogs predict early spring


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Twitter/@ChrisCQuinn

Spring is coming early if the city’s most famous marmot has predicted correctly.

Groundhog Chuck in Staten Island and Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania did not see their shadows this morning.

City Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn celebrated at the city’s Groundhog Day festivities in Staten Island after the tiny rodent predicted the end of winter.

Shadows were not the only shy ones Saturday morning. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was also absent.

New York City bracing for snow this weekend


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

After avoiding accumulation in Wednesday’s nor’easter, New York City is bracing for several inches of snow to coat the area this weekend.

Two to four inches of snow is expected in the city, according to the National Weather Service, with the snowfall to begin after 9 a.m. before tapering off later in the day.

In preparation for the storm, the DSNY has issued a snow alert and plows and salt spreaders are ready for tomorrow morning if needed.

The storm is moving north and is expected to drop several inches of snow on Philadelphia before making its way to the city.

Over the Christmas holiday, a nor’easter struck the Midwest, killing more than a dozen residents and dumping almost two feet of snow some places. New York City avoided snow and only experienced high winds and rain.

This winter, don’t let dry, uncomfortable skin happen to you


| Brandpoint@queenscourier.com

With winter weather comes the inevitable – dry, itchy, uncomfortable skin due to loss of moisture. With harsh winds and snow outdoors, you’ll want to cuddle up with a loved one but dry, flaky and cracked skin could make you apprehensive warming up next to that special someone.

It’s easy to get soft, smooth skin, even in the winter – you just have to make sure you’re taking a few extra precautionary steps. With the right techniques, you can avoid the dry skin that occurs when the weather takes a turn for the bitter, and reveal healthy-looking, smooth skin that’s irresistible to touch – perfect for those cold nights.

Overall skin dryness

If you’re experiencing dry skin, there are a few things that can help. While a hot shower can feel great on a cold day, try turning the temperature down just a bit as exposure to extreme temperature changes can weaken your skin’s natural defenses. Run a humidifier in your room as you sleep to expose your skin to more moisture for extended periods of time. In addition to making sure exposed skin is covered up when outdoors, use a moisturizing lotion daily.

Dry nose, ears and lips

Scarves aren’t only a stylish addition to your wardrobe in the winter; they can also help protect your skin from the elements. Covering your ears, nose and lips can help prevent painful cracking by protecting sensitive skin from the elements. If you know you’ll likely to experience irritation in your lips and nostrils, keep lip balm and ointment in your winter jacket so you can apply it before you’re exposed to cold air for long amounts of time.

Dry scalp

If you notice your scalp getting dry in the winter, you may have to switch to a shampoo and conditioner with more moisturizing properties. Wash your hair regularly, but also limit bath time, as the Mayo Clinic warns that long baths or showers can remove moisturizing oils from your skin.

Winter can often be the most difficult time for skin, but by being proactive with your skin care habits such as moisturizing daily and keeping covered, you can keep yourself feeling comfortable and your skin looking good.

A mix of snow & rain expected during morning commute tomorrow


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

New Yorkers will likely have to deal with a wintry mix of rain and snow during their commute tomorrow morning.

The precipitation is set to begin early tomorrow with the snowfall picking up at around 8 a.m., according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Approximately one inch of accumulation is expected. Snow will give way to rain in the afternoon.

The Department of Sanitation began loading salt spreaders today in preparation for the storm and has issued a “snow alert.”

Stay warm this winter: home heating tips for tricky spaces


| ara@queenscourier.com

When cold winds blow, it can be tricky to keep different rooms throughout your home at the right temperature – especially if you have old and drafty windows, tight spaces or room additions to work around. It can also be challenging to ensure economical comfort without having to do a major heating system overhaul. Yet there are easy and flexible ways to heat your home in areas where it needs it most and still stay comfortable all winter long.

Odd-shaped rooms in older homes, additions such as sunrooms and bonus rooms, and far-flung spaces like remodeled basements and attics can pose a heating challenge. In addition, some homes have no ductwork heating system, making it impractical or expensive to consider installing one to heat such spaces. If this sounds like your house, consider these tips to keep your home warm this winter.

Go ductless with room-by-room heating

A ductless heating system can provide comfort where you want it, when you want it. A ductless system consists of two simple components: an outdoor compressor/condenser and one or more indoor units that deliver heated or cooled air. Since there is no ductwork, the small indoor unit can be mounted on most interior walls. Mini Split Models have one outdoor unit and one indoor unit. Multi Split Models can have up to five indoor units connected to one outdoor unit, for heating rooms both efficiently and economically. Each unit is also individually controlled, for room-by-room comfort.

Add warmth with a gas stove or fireplace

Another option to consider is an individual heating unit, such as a gas stove. This can be a great solution for a hard-to-heat space, such as a porch converted to a year-round room. These stoves give off all the warmth and glow of a traditional wood burning fireplace or stove, and can keep an entire room comfortable in the coldest months of the year, even if they are the room’s only heat source. Simply turn the flame on or off with a button, or set it to ignite only when the room reaches a preset temperature. Another consideration is a gas fireplace insert to efficiently heat your existing fireplace, a good solution in a basement or added family room.

Keep hot air in and cold air out

Some simple repairs around the house can also ensure you’re not wasting precious heat. For example, older windows can let heated air escape. If you can’t replace your windows with more energy-efficient ones, improve the performance of the ones you have. Some ideas from the U.S. Department of Energy include using a heavy duty clear plastic sheet on a frame or taping clear plastic from the inside of the window to reduce drafts; installing tight fitting, insulating window shades; and opening curtains and shades in the daytime to let in warming sunlight. You can also reduce heat loss by up to 50 percent by installing exterior or interior storm windows.

There are no excuses for being cold this winter. Use these tips to keep Old Man Winter and his frosty breath at bay.

Above average snowfall to hit city this winter: report


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

After a relatively snow-free winter last year, New Yorkers will need to get their shovels out of the shed and dig in this winter.

A report from accuweather.com said the Northeast will be hit with an above average amount of snowfall this year. Average snowfall in the city is 25 inches, meaning the city is forecasted for well above two feet of snow this year.

Last winter, residents had to deal with only five inches of powder, a far cry from the more than 50 that blanketed the city the year prior.

Despite the report, meteorologists from the National Weather Service (NWS) said it is still too early to predict this winter’s snowfall.

“At this time there is about an equal chance of average, above average or below average precipitation this winter,” David Stark, meteorologist from the NWS, said.

New York was in a La Nina winter last year, said Stark.  This year’s outlook is looking at a neutral or El Nino winter, which may have, as of now, an unknown effect on the season’s weather, he said.

Stark did add that one aspect of the city’s winter will be above average; the NWS’s Climate Prediction Center said New York has 30 percent chance of seeing above normal temperatures this winter.

3 to 6 inches of snow forecasted for city


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

After months of unseasonably warm weather, it appears winter is descending on the city.

Between three to six inches of snow is expected to fall in the city.  A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued by the National Weather Service (NWS).  The forecasts call for the snow to begin late tonight through Saturday afternoon. The advisory lasts through Saturday.

After last winter’s record-breaking snowfalls, New Yorkers have seen nothing more than flurries this season.  More than 60 inches of powder fell on the city last winter.  The relatively-warm season has been snow-free with the only accumulation falling on Halloween weekend.

The NWS warns that driving conditions may be dangerous due to snow-slicked roads and limited visibility.

The Department of Sanitation has also issued a snow alert initiating DNSY personnel to begin preparing snow removal equipment.

Due to the impending snow alternate side parking regulations  are suspended citywide on Saturday. Parking meters and all other posted parking restrictions will remain in effect.

Woman dragged into Hunters Point parking lot and raped by group of men


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Woman dragged into Hunters Point parking lot and raped by group of men

Cops are hunting for a group of men they say raped a woman on a dark Queens street early Sunday. The 20-year-old woman was walking near Vernon Boulevard and 10th Street in Hunters Point when two men grabbed her and dragged her into a parking lot at about 3:45 a.m., police said. As the two suspects held her down between two cars, a third man — who is in his late 20s and about 5-foot-10 with blond hair and blue eyes — raped her, cops said.  Read More: Daily News

Queens rape victim was falsely imprisoned for robberies; now she sues city cops for falling for her attacker’s story

A QUEENS rape victim who was locked up for robberies she didn’t commit is suing city and Long Island cops for falling for her attacker’s “preposterous hoax” of a revenge plot. In a federal lawsuit, Seemona Sumasar claims NYPD cops protected her attacker, Jerry Ramrattan, because he was secretly funneling them information about other crimes while working as an informant. Read More: Daily News

Parents and officials say Department of Education has turned back on Jamaica High School

Even though the Department of Education’s (DOE) decision to close Jamaica High School was finalized in February, current students are still hoping for a quality education. Currently in the process of being phased out, Jamaica High School no longer accepts new students and is expected to close its doors for good in 2014. Read More: Queens Courier

At Top Public Schools, the Arts Replace Recess

All of this concentrated learning — activities parents commonly think of as enrichment — was taking place not after school hours, but during recess, the once-unstructured midday break that for some elementary school students is slowly being squeezed out of the day. Jump rope, freeze tag and the jungle gym have some new competition. At some of the city’s highest-rated public elementary schools, recess is now being seen by parents and educators as a time to pack in extra learning. Read More: New York Times

Giants, Mets Trade: New York Trades Angel Pagan To San Francisco For Andres Torres, Ramon Ramirez

Walking across the hotel lobby, New York Mets manager Terry Collins smiled. “We rebuilt our bullpen in one day,” he said. In a rapid-fire series of moves at the winter meetings that took 1 1/2 days to put together and 1 1/2 hours to finalize, the Mets agreed to trade center fielder Angel Pagan to San Francisco for outfielder Andres Torres and pitcher Ramon Ramirez, and reached agreements with free-agent relievers Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch. Read More: Huffington Post

Ex-corrections officer acquitted of attempted murder charges in Queens

A former correction officer who was facing up to 25 years in prison for shooting two men outside of a Queens bowling alley was acquitted of double attempted murder and assault charges. “His defense was one of self-defense,” said Michael Lavecchio’s trial attorney, Stephen Worth, after a jury cleared his client of all charges on Monday night. Lavecchio, 55, was working as a security guard at the AMF bowling alley on 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights on February 6, 2010 when he asked Justin Donaghy and Gerard Hourigan to leave the building.  Read More: New York Post

MTA forgot about stranded blizzard train

The MTA’s subway boss admitted yesterday that transit officials got so overwhelmed during last year’s Christmas-time blizzard they “forgot” about an A train stuck on the tracks for nine agonizing hours with 500 passengers on board. Read More: New York Post