Forecasters predict that temperatures will slide icily between 10 and 25 degrees for the next four days, giving York County and surrounding areas a teeth-chattering reminder of what January is really all about.
So far this winter, temperatures have barely dipped below 20 degrees, said Mike Dangelo, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College.
"It's barely going to get above 20 degrees each of those days," Dangelo said. "We've been spoiled. That's the big story here."
A mild December - one of the warmest on record - may be responsible for lulling Yorkers into a false sense of wintry benevolence, Dangelo said.
But, he said, dry, cold air from Canada is finally drifting into the Keystone State.
Beginning Tuesday morning and continuing through Friday, workers can expect temperatures between 10 and 18 degrees to greet them at the bus stop or driveway.
That's downright shiver-inducing. But, Dangelo suggested we look on the bright side.
"At least it's above zero," he said, hinting at the sorry fortunes of some Pennsylvania neighbors to the north.
Of course, the whines of chilly commuters are mere background noise compared to the concerns of men and women who must turn to homeless shelters when temperatures dip to dangerous lows.
Most of the 60 beds were already full Monday night at the Bell Family Shelter in York City, which provides housing and other services to homeless families and women with children.
Many of those who seek help at the shelter have recently been evicted from apartments, said Diana Moye, a caseworker.
Others may be living in their cars, or their homes lack heat, Moye said. When temperatures fall below freezing, the demand simply increases, she said.
"I've noticed that around this time, people do try to get indoors," she said. "Due to the times and money and lack of funding and job changes and life changes, these are the things that happen."
At the York Rescue Mission, staff member Brian Wilkinson said, there are beds for 28 men.
But, when winter weather makes outside living dangerous, the mission at 367 W. Market St. opens its doors to any man who needs a warm place to sleep, Wilkinson said.
"We don't turn them away," he said. "We put mats down on the floor."
- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.