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November 28, 2023

Dangerously cold weather prompts 'Code Blue' status for Philadelphia and Montgomery counties

The city will extend homeless shelter hours and take additional safety measures as temperatures drop into the 20s

Weather Cold Temperatures

Philadelphia and Montgomery counties issued Code Blue declarations this week because temperatures are forecast to drop into the 20s, creating life-threatening conditions for the area's homeless populations.

It is officially dangerously cold in Philadelphia. The city's Office of Homeless Services issued a Code Blue alert Monday night because temperatures may dip into the mid-20s on Tuesday and Wednesday. Montgomery County also is under a Code Blue alert due to the frigid weather.

It is precisely under these conditions – when there's precipitation and it's below 33 degrees, or when the wind chill makes it feel near or below 20 degrees – that the city issues its Code Blue cold weather warning.

The Code Blue status primarily is intended to keep the city's unhoused population safe when the cold weather becomes life-threatening. The OHS extends homeless shelter hours, provides additional beds in those shelters and initiates 24-hour outreach to help find unhoused people and transport them to safety indoors.

Philly had its longest-running Code Blue declaration in 2018, when freezing temperatures prompted the city to continue its expanded homeless shelter hours and outreach for two weeks.

City officials have not set an end date for the current Code Blue declaration, but temperatures are forecast to warm up after Wednesday, with lows expected to climb back above 30 degrees on Thursday and Friday.

Although slow flurries are possible in some areas Tuesday, no major snowfall is expected in Philadelphia or Montgomery County this week. The Philadelphia region is currently in the midst of a record-breaking snowless streak. The city has gone more than 660 days since it saw an inch or more of snow. The last time Philly saw significant snowfall was January 2022. 

People who see people who may be at risk during the Code Blue may call Philly's homeless outreach hotline at (215) 232-1984.