Polar vortex puts US Midwest in a deep freeze

01 February, 2019, 08:09 | Author: Sherry Houston
  • Polar vortex: Parts of US set for record-breaking cold

The combination of those extremes results in a daily average of minus-17, just short of December 24, 1983, when the average temperature was minus-18 in the Windy City.

At least five deaths related to extreme cold weather have been reported since Saturday in Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, local media reports said.

A zebra died at a farm in northern in due to the extreme cold gripping the region.

"While winds will gradually diminish throughout the day, wind chill values are only expected to rise to around zero by afternoon", it added. The arctic conditions caused problems from Buffalo to Brooklyn, where about 200 firefighters battling an early morning blaze in a commercial building took turns getting warm on buses amid the frigid conditions.

Two-thirds of the continental United States will be a frozen ice box Tuesday, as the so-called polar vortex of frigid arctic air spins across the U.S. Midwest, clips the Great Lakes, the Ohio Valley and pushes on into New England.

Wisconsin and MI have declaried a state of emergency, with many state agencies closed in IL as well. But students headed back to school in eastern North Dakota, where subzero temperatures were forecast to crawl upward. They are 5 to 6 feet underground and beneath the frost line, but that matters little when temperatures drop so dramatically, Peckinpaugh said.

In Detroit, more than two dozen water mains froze.

As of noon Thursday, at O'Hare International Airport 1,467 flights were canceled, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Chicago recorded a low temperature of about minus 23 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 30 Celsius) - not a record, but close to it. Minneapolis recorded minus 27 F (minus 32 C). Utqiagvik, formerly known as Barrow, will drop to around minus-20 - 10 degrees warmer than parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and IL will be at the same time.

The weather service initially hinted of a possibility that Thursday morning could at least match the 1985 record.

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Streets in Chicago were almost empty, with few people walking outside in the painfully cold air as temperatures hovered around minus minus 28 Celsius (18 Fahrenheit).

Some of the previous South Dakota records were set about a century ago. Trains and buses operated with few passengers; engineers set fires along tracks to keep commuter trains moving.

The bitter cold is the result of a split in the polar vortex, a large area of low pressure and cold air at the Earth's poles. Beneath this lay a dense layer of arctic air that was pushed south over the US.

The deaths included an elderly IL man who was found several hours after he fell trying to get into his home and a University of Iowa student found behind an academic hall several hours before dawn.

The National Weather Service has warned people that they are at risk of frostbite within ten minutes if they stay outdoors.

The Michigan Agency for Energy said the state's utility companies had agreed not to shut off gas or electric supplies to delinquent customers for the rest of the week. But one forecast model that has been running particularly cold this week, the European, predicts Chicago's will drop to minus-29 Thursday morning.

Amtrak said it would cancel all trains in and out of Chicago on Wednesday.

Climate change is creating extreme conditions on both ends of the spectrum. A siren got stuck, contributing to the bedlam. When steel rails break or even crack, trains are automatically halted until they are diverted or the section of rail is repaired, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis explained.

"You could see the look on their faces".

"Lake Michigan took on the appearance of a boiling cauldron as air of minus-20 degrees and colder made contact with water sitting just above the freezing level", Skilling said in his report.

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