Cold prompts Code Blue – and Xmas tree sales

Bundled against the cold and sipping warm drinks while awaiting a Reindeer Party at Sesame Place are (from left) Lauren Einhorn of Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.; daughters Cora, 6, and Brooke, 3; and husband Eric.
Bundled against the cold and sipping warm drinks while awaiting a Reindeer Party at Sesame Place are (from left) Lauren Einhorn of Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.; daughters Cora, 6, and Brooke, 3; and husband Eric. (DAVID M WARREN / Staff)
Posted: November 26, 2013

The region was jolted by its first cold snap Sunday, prompting Philadelphia to declare a Code Blue emergency, hospitals to prepare for overnight patients, and purveyors of gloves and mittens to stock the shelves.

Christmas tree vendors rejoiced.

Temperatures were 30 degrees nippier than a week ago, making the chill feel extra frosty - and taking many by surprise.

"When it gets cold this quickly, the homeless people who are living on the street don't always expect it," said Carol Thomas, director of outreach for Project HOME, a Philadelphia nonprofit that focuses on homelessness, "and that puts them at great risk."

Another men's shelter, which can be accessed by visiting the main shelter at 2601 N. Broad St., opened Saturday. Those facilities, as well as the women's shelter at 48th Street and Haverford Avenue, typically open at 4 p.m. but stayed open throughout the day Sunday.

Shelter information from Project HOME is available at 215-232-1984 and 877-222-1984.

Relief from the frigid conditions is not far off - but it won't last long.

The Code Blue emergency is expected to be lifted at noon Monday.

Adam Robinson, a supervisor at Eastern Mountain Sports in University City, was enjoying the numbing temperatures while they lasted. He said sales Sunday were up about 25 percent, with shoppers seemingly surprised by the cold surge seeking "an extra layer or a hat and gloves."

At Temple University Hospital on Sunday afternoon, Robert McNamara, chairman of emergency medicine, said one man who had been sleeping in a car came in with mild hypothermia. Staff warmed him up before releasing him.

Additional patients were expected at night, when the hospital typically sees the most severe cold-related cases, McNamara said.

Temperatures are anticipated to rise steadily from a high in the mid-30s Monday to about 50 Wednesday, then drop again that afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Mount Holly. On Thursday, watching the 6ABC Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade will require an extra pair of socks and a hot beverage, as the high is not expected to get beyond the mid-30s.

But it will be dry - maybe. A storm front expected to bring cold rain to the city Tuesday night into early Wednesday has a chance of shifting and blanketing the city with snow, according to the National Weather Service's Jim Bunker.

Debbie Watson of Watson Tree Farm in Warrington wouldn't mind flurries. She was worried last week when temperatures reached into the 60s.

"The customers don't let [bad] weather stop them," she said. "They come in sleet and snow. They come into the office, and their noses are red and runny, and they say 'Oh, it feels like Christmas.' "


tnadolny@phillynews.com

610-313-8205

@TriciaNadolny

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