Published: Thu, January 31, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

At least 12 dead as Arctic freeze spreads into U.S

At least 12 dead as Arctic freeze spreads into U.S

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As of Wednesday morning, Chicago was already significantly colder than Antarctica, with the city at -21F and the south pole at -11F.

Temperatures have plunged to -30C (-22F) and below in parts of North America as extreme cold weather known as a polar vortex strikes the region.

The freezing weather is set to sweep across the US and unleash arctic air across the US Midwest, clipping the Great Lakes, the Ohio Valley and pushing on into New England.

"Not only is brutal cold invading the central parts of the country, accumulating snow and freezing roadways all the way into the deep south could make travel risky", the NWS said.

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

More than 1,800 flights were cancelled at Chicago's two major airports, while rail operator Amtrak scrapped train services from its hub in the city.

The cold has caused at least a dozen deaths since Saturday across the Midwest, according to official and media reports.

The culprit was a lobe of arctic air broken away from the polar vortex that usually encircles the North Pole.

"A record arctic air mass will remain over the central and eastern United States over the next several days", the NWS said.

"This morning is the worst of the worst in terms of the cold", Orrison said.

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A deadly arctic deep freeze enveloped the Midwest with record-breaking temperatures on Wednesday, triggering widespread closures of schools and businesses, and prompting the US Postal Service to take the rare step of suspending mail delivery to a wide swath of the region.

"There's cold, and then there's COLD!" the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

The coldest temperature ever recorded in Chicago was -27C on January 20, 1985.

Governors in Illinois, Wisconsin and MI declared emergencies as the worst of the cold threatened on Wednesday.

Companies told their workers to stay home.

"The National Weather Service continues to predict dangerously cold sub-zero temperatures and the priority must continue to be on keeping people safe", Whitmer said in a statement.

Meteorologists added that frostbite could be possible within just 10 minutes due to the intense cold.

Officials throughout the Mid West are taking extraordinary measures to protect the homeless and other vulnerable people from the bitter cold, including turning some city buses into mobile warming shelters in Chicago.

Burke Patten, spokesman for Chicago homeless shelter provider The Night Ministry, said some of the homeless were reluctant to go to shelters.

"I'm here until they let me leave", Robinson said. It was considering whether to cancel additional shifts.

Remnants of a weekend snowstorm continued to plague portions of the northeast - with strong winds and blowing snow threatening whiteout conditions and reducing visibility.

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