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Brrr, big chill hits US Midwest, United States News & Top Stories

01 Février 2019

This week's cold snap virtually shut the city down for a day, as everything from flights and public transit to the city's public school system and mail delivery in ZIP codes in Chicago and around IL was canceled for Wednesday and Thursday.

The US Postal Service - known for its commitment to bringing the mail whatever the weather - suspended deliveries in parts of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, the Dakotas and Nebraska.

Schools and businesses remained closed in several Midwestern states, people were encouraged to stay home, and travellers were stranded by grounded flights and halted trains.

"This morning is some of the coldest of the temperatures across the upper Midwest, and we still have some risky wind chills", said Andrew Orrison, a National Weather Service forecaster. Friday afternoon temperatures will climb to a high in the low 20s, while Saturday afternoon's high is forecasted to be near 40 degrees.

Before the worst of the cold begins to lift, the National Weather Service says Chicago could hit lows early Thursday that break the city's record of minus 27 set on January 20, 1985. In Minnesota, where wind chill readings could reach negative 55 degrees (negative 48 Celsius), several large school districts also called off classes.

It has been more than 20 years since a similar blast of frigid air covered a swath of the U.S. Midwest and Northeast, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials throughout the region were focused on protecting vulnerable people from the cold, including the homeless, seniors and those living in substandard housing.

"It's awful!" Pasquale Cappellano, a 68-year-old waiter, said as he smoked a cigarette while waiting outside for a bus on the North Side of Chicago.

As Mashable pointed out, though, while this "might look fun", the polar vortex "has brought life-threatening temperatures to many areas".

At Chicago airports, more than 1,300 flights were cancelled as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, according to the city's aviation department.

The National Weather Service is going with minus-24 at sunrise Thursday, which would fall short. In all, some 61,000 people lost power throughout the cold streak, ComEd officials said Wednesday night. But students headed back to school Thursday in eastern North Dakota, where the weather was forecast to crawl out of double-digit subzero temperatures.

He said places in MI and IL that were experiencing record or near-record cold this week were expected to be around 10C by Monday, approximately a 40C turnaround. In Chicago, major attractions closed because of the bitter cold, including the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Art Institute and the Field Museum. They also were filling up in Detroit.

With nine weather-related deaths reported so far, the cold was spreading east into New England and the mid-Atlantic states.

Some utility companies in parts of the Upper Midwest have asked customers to turn down their thermostats to ensure that there's enough natural gas to go around.

Officials in IL and the Northern states are advising residents to stay indoors, as Chicago braced for one of its coldest days on record. Wind chills in northern IL were as low as 57 below in Rockford. "I feel sorry for anybody that has to stay outside".

Many Midwest cities opened warming shelter.

"People exposed to extreme cold are susceptible to frostbite in a matter of minutes", warned the NWS. The trains run on diesel fuel, so there's no danger they will explode if the flames get a little too intense - or so says Metra director of engineering John Meyer, who remembers the days when workers poured kerosene on rails by hand and tossed lit matches on them to keep the rails toasty. Competitors can cover the race route by bicycle, cross-country skis or just running.

Brrr, big chill hits US Midwest, United States News & Top Stories