A mix of heavy rain, wind and snow bore down on the U.S. Northeast on Wednesday, as more than 600,000 households that have been without power for nine days prepared for a long, cold night.
"While this storm is not as dangerous as Sandy was, New Yorkers should still take safety precautions today and tonight," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters Wednesday.
Forecasters predicted gusts of up to 60 mph in shore towns and cities across New York and New Jersey, bringing 2- to 4-foot storm surges just as homes and office buildings had begun to dry out and floodwaters to recede after Superstorm Sandy.
Coastal erosion caused by last week's storm has sparked fears of more flooding in storm-battered communities, while incoming cold weather was expected to hamper utility restoration efforts across the region.
"Strong winds, combined with the saturated soils after Sandy's impact, will create another threat for more downed trees and power lines," CNN meteorologist Sarah Dillingham said. "The silver lining there may be is that Sandy took many of the leaves off the trees, so there might not be as many downed trees and branches this time."
Bloomberg urged residents in the city's low-lying areas -- especially Breezy Point, Hamilton Beach and Gerristen Beach -- to "consider going someplace else tonight, to be a little bit on the safe side."
But he issued no mandatory evacuation orders, other than for a handful of chronic-care facilities and an adult-care center in areas that were hit hard by Sandy.
"If people think you're crying wolf, the next time, when it's really a serious threat, they might not do it," the mayor said.
That was not the case in New Jersey, where the Brick Township Office of Emergency Management issued a mandatory evacuation order for all residents of low-lying waterfront areas of town.
Meanwhile, freezing temperatures ushered in snow and potentially deadly conditions for those without shelter, as displaced residents struggled to stay warm with generators and blankets. Others continued to camp with family and neighbors as they awaited the return of electricity.
On Tuesday night, about 8,500 Sandy victims had taken refuge in more than 100 Red Cross shelters. Temperatures were expected to dip again Wednesday night into the 20s, forecasters said.
Shelters were opened across the city for displaced residents or those without power.
"We think we're ready for anything," said Bloomberg, who ordered patrol officers to use their cruisers' loudspeakers to encourage elderly or homebound residents to go somewhere warm and safe and advised residents to check on neighbors.
More than a week after Sandy struck the Northeast, its death toll in New York City climbed to 41 as a 78-year-old man died Tuesday of injuries suffered in the storm, police said.
The continuing recovery effort had already left thousands of area residents tired, homeless and looking for answers.
New York City's Penn Station was shut Wednesday evening due to overcrowding after the Long Island Railroad halted service system-wide, Metropolitan Transit Authority spokeswoman Marjorie Anders told CNN.
Weather-related problems, including downed trees and wires, led officials to suspend Long Island Railroad service out of Manhattan's Penn Station and Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal, Anders said.
As many as 20,000 households across New York City and Westchester County were not expected to be back online by the weekend because of damage to their homes' electrical systems, officials said.
Contractors will need to check the electrical wiring in each home and business to ensure that power can be safely restored, Bloomberg said. Salt-caked wiring could ignite once the power is restored.
On Long Island's hard-hit coast, towns such as Oceanside remained largely without power.
"The lights came on for three minutes here. Everybody cheered like A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez) hit one out at Yankee Stadium," said Rick Wolkenberg. "Then there was this weird hum and everything went out again. They teased us, and now we're sitting here in the dark again."
The 59-year-old mortgage lender said his staff has been working for days in his office by means of a small generator and flashlights.
"Everyone's really frazzled, angry," he said. "It's not just the power. Now it's getting an electrician to evaluate the house, then getting a plumber -- and nobody's coming because they're all overwhelmed."
His 81-year-old mother, Edith, moved in with his family after Sandy slammed through her home in Oceanside.
"There just seems so many obstacles now," Wolkenberg said. In all, 607,000 customers were without power Wednesday in New York and New Jersey.