Polar Vortex Brings Record Lows to Long Island

The deep freeze that gripped Long Island Tuesday brought record temperatures that haven’t been felt in more than four decades, and in the case of New York City, the 19th century.

The biting cold brought on by the so-called polar vortex, dropped temperatures in Islip to 4 degrees overnight between Monday and Tuesday, breaking the previous record of 7 in 1986, according to the Upton-based National Weather Service.

Record lows were again captured in Islip overnight Tuesday with the mercury dropping to a low of 7, blowing by 1988’s record of 13, the weather service said.

But it was in New York City where temperatures recorded in Central Park reached a low not felt since Grover Cleveland called the White House home. The temperature at Central Park Tuesday came in at 4 degrees, besting the previous record low of 6 in 1896, the agency said.

Record lows were also recorded at JFK and LaGuardia airports (4 and 6 degrees respectively).

The extreme cold that barreled into Long Island was caused by the polar vortex, which is always present in the arctic, but broke off and enveloped most of the country from the Midwest to the Northeast.

The cold snap continued into Wednesday morning with temperatures on LI still in the teens. But forecasters said “warmer air” will eventually push temperatures to a high of 22—a welcome reprieve even if it’s still so frigid.

Thursday will still be cool with a high of 34—which is 30 degrees higher than the 4 degrees recorded at Islip overnight Monday.