Parts of Midwest colder than Antarctica during deep freeze

As the saying goes: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat…” will stop the mail, but extreme cold has done so

Cars are covered by snow, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in Wheeling, Ill. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The deadly deep freeze enveloping the Midwest sent temperatures plunging Wednesday to rival some of the most frigid spots in the world, triggering widespread closures of schools and businesses, and the cancelling of more than 1,600 flights from Chicago’s airports.

The U.S. Postal Service even took the rare step of suspending mail delivery across much of the region. Hundreds of public schools and universities from North Dakota to Pennsylvania cancelled classes as residents huddled inside amid one of the coldest air masses in years.

READ MORE: Major winter storm wreaks havoc on U.S. travel

The bitter cold is the result of a split in the polar vortex that allowed temperatures to drop much farther south than normal. That meant temperatures in parts of the Midwest were lower Wednesday than in Antarctica, where the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station hit negative 25 degrees (negative 31.7 Celsius) — balmy compared to Fargo, North Dakota’s negative 31 degrees (negative 35 Celsius) and Minneapolis’ negative 27 degrees (negative 32 Celsius), according to the National Weather Service.

Snowplows were idled overnight because of the cold in southwestern Minnesota, where temperatures dropped to negative 29 degrees (negative 34 Celsius). In Chicago, temperatures were still dropping after plunging early Wednesday to minus 19 degrees (negative 28 Celsius), breaking the day’s previous record low set in 1966 — and colder than the weather in Barrow, Alaska, the most northern town in the U.S.

And that doesn’t include wind chill, which in northern Illinois made the air feel as cold as negative 57 degrees (negative 49.4 Celsius). The National Weather Service warned that a wind chill of minus 25 (negative 32 Celsius) can freeze skin within 15 minutes.

Officials throughout the region were focused on protecting vulnerable people from the cold , including the homeless, seniors and those living in substandard housing. Some buses were turned into mobile warming shelters to help the homeless in Chicago.

“These (conditions) are actually a public health risk and you need to treat it appropriately,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday. “They are life-threatening conditions and temperatures.”

About 1,300 of Wednesday’s cancelled flights in Chicago were at O’Hare International Airport, one of the nation’s busiest airports. United Airlines spokesman Charlie Hobart said “everything tends to slow down” during severely cold weather, including manpower, fueling and equipment. Calling the temperatures “dangerous,” Hobart said United was bringing in extra workers and providing heated tents for employees.

A popular saying goes: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat …” will stop the mail from being delivered, but extreme cold did so Wednesday. The U.S. Postal Service has suspended mail delivery in parts or all of several Midwest states.

Governors in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan declared emergencies as the worst of the cold threatened on Wednesday. In Chicago, major attractions closed because of the bitter cold, including the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Art Institute and the Field Museum.

At least six deaths have been linked so far to the weather system, including two people in the Detroit area.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Families learn to navigate the perils of the Internet

Speaker talks to Campbell River kids, parents about staying safe in a social media world

‘Priceless’ hat stolen from Indigenous art store in Campbell River during break-in

Ernie Smith, co-owner of Awatin Aboriginal Art, looking for help in recovering stolen hat

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

BC Hydro increasing flow down Elk Falls to assist steelhead migration and spawning

Water flows within Elk Falls Canyon are increasing today to assist steelhead… Continue reading

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Students give two thumbs up to no more B.C. student loan interest

Eliminating the loan interest charges could say the average graduate $2,300 over 10 years

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Most Read