NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - If you plan on ringing in the new year at the annual ball drop in Times Square, expect to be very cold. A severe blast of Arctic air has descended on the New York City region. Temperatures will stay below the freezing mark around the clock for the rest of the year.
On New Year's Eve, the temperature is expected to drop to around 11 degrees, about 14 degrees below normal and one of the coldest on record. The wind chill factor will make it feel below zero. High temperatures leading to the holiday were colder than the typical low temperatures for those days.
Revelers are expected to begin lining up in the bitter cold in the early afternoon, hours ahead of when the city will mark the start of 2018 with a glittering crystal ball drop, a burst of more than a ton of confetti and fireworks.
"Hundreds of thousands have withstood very cold weather over the years for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we expect this year to be no different," said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance which puts on the event.
The coldest New Year's Eve in Times Square came in 1917, when it was 1 degree at midnight. This year, the forecast is for 11 degrees with a wind chill around zero, which would tie for second with 1962.
City and state health officials are advising people to cover all exposed skin, and wear a hat, scarf and gloves. Drinking alcohol is discouraged because it causes the body to lose heat faster.
The National Weather Service says the average forecast temperature for the next few days for Central Park will be 19 degrees with forecast highs in the low- and middle-20s and lows in the middle teens.
New York City Emergency Management officials issued an extreme cold weather alert starting on Tuesday afternoon encouraging New Yorkers to stay indoors as much as possible. They warned that prolonged exposure to cold can contribute to health problems such as hypothermia, frostbite, and exacerbation of chronic heart and lung conditions.
A Code Blue was issued for the homeless. People were asked to call 311 if they see homeless people outside so that city workers could attempt to get them to go to a shelter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.