SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - Near freezing overnight temperatures have prompted officials in the South Bay to open warming centers that will remain open nightly through Christmas.
As the sun set on the first day of winter, a chill settled in around the Bay Area Thursday evening.
"It is so cold. It is freezing cold. My hands are frozen," said Katlyn Pham of San Jose.
At "Christmas in the Park" in downtown San Jose, the weather meant scarves and jackets including for resident Amy Roemer who used to live in Berlin, Germany.
"It's cold. I moved here because I thought it's warmer and it's cold now," said Roemer, who now lives in Campbell.
The weather prompted Sunnyvale mother Sara Grassman to get creative keeping her 2-year-old son and a 9-month-old daughter warm.
"To me it's cold," said Grassman. "I have her bundled in a big furry jacket inside my maternity jacket turned upside down."
At the Roosevelt Community Center in downtown San Jose, the city is temporarily turning a dance studio into one of four warming centers at night.
San Jose followed Santa Clara County's lead and just changed the threshold to open warming centers when the forecast is for 40 degrees or lower, instead of the past trigger of 38 degrees or less.
"We try to look at it at times when there is greater risk for hypothermia, greater risk from exposure to the cold and, more than anything, get people inside so they're safe and warm," said Ray Bramson, San Jose's Acting Deputy Director of Housing.
Even with an expected warm up, San Jose plans to keep the warming centers open through the morning after Christmas for those who need it, including Rod White -- a homeless resident who usually sleeps outside, but not when temperatures drop around freezing.
"It was very cold last night. I mean really, really cold. I had to sleep in my daughter's car last night," said White.
Outside San Jose City Hall, a choir joined dozens of people who gathered to remember more than 130 homeless people who died in Santa Clara County in just the last year.
"This is the longest night of the year and this is why it's 'National Day of Mourning' for homeless folks. We are here to pay homage to our dead and hopefully prevent the deaths of more people," said San Jose resident Shaunn Cartwright.
The City of San Jose says it has a contract for a half a million dollars to run the warming centers for 45 nights and they expect to need all of those this winter season.
San Jose warming centers: Open nightly at 9pm
Tully Community Library: 880 Tully Road, San Jose, CA 95111
Southside Senior Center: 5585 Cottle Road, San Jose, CA 95127
Alum Rock Library: 3090 Alum Rock Avenue, San Jose, CA 95127
Roosevelt Community Center: 901 E. Santa Clara Street, San Jose, CA 95116
Santa Clara County overnight shelters: