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

Nelson’s Charlie PS shortlisted for CBC award

Voting ends Tuesday for the prize

Nelson Nordic Club gets nerdy at provincials

The club had several podium finishes at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

Bronze for Nelson boxer at Canada Winter Games

Brayden Hellekson defeated Seamus O’Brien on Wednesday

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Most Read