Chicago to be colder than parts of Antarctica as polar vortex strikes

Gwen Vasquez
January 31, 2019

The cold front bringing its icy grip to parts of the United States and Canada is a result of a weather condition called a polar vortex. The wind chill could make the Windy City feel as cold as 51 degrees below zero.

More than 2,300 flights were canceled and more than 3,500 delayed, a lot of them out of Chicago's O'Hare International and Midway International airports, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware.com.

Postal services have been suspended in some areas of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin as well as parts of Kansas, Montana and Nebraska because it's simply too cold for postal workers to be out and about.

The cause of the sub-zero chill was a swirl of arctic air that broke away from the polar vortex that usually encircles the North Pole.

The National Weather Service is warning people in the IL city to cover their mouths and "to protect your lungs from severely cold air, avoid taking deep breaths; minimize talking".

In Minneapolis, charitable groups that operate warming places and shelters were expanding hours and capacity 'as they do whenever unsafe extreme temperature events occur, ' said Hennepin County Emergency Management Director Eric Waage. It could be the coldest day ever recorded in Chicago on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service said temperatures would remain 25 to 45 degrees below average through Thursday, with wind chill values as low as -25 to -55 degrees Fahrenheit (-32 to -48 Celsius). "If you can't stay cozy inside, be sure to cover any exposed skin".

Temperatures in Chicago will drop again "quite precipitously" on Wednesday night, Orrison said, potentially breaking the record low of minus 27 (minus 33C) on January 21, 1985, the same day as Ronald Reagan's presidential inauguration.

Authorities and health experts warned of frostbite and hypothermia.

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A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that cold weather is responsible for the majority of weather-related fatalities.

Officials in a number of states have opened shelters as police search for people most at risk from cold conditions.

"Please come back fast, we need you".

MetroTransit said it wouldn't remove people from buses if they were riding them simply to stay warm, and weren't being disruptive. They added that the city offered "shelter for homeless residents, warming centers and well-being checks".

Chicago´s regional electric train service was canceled due to wire problems caused by the freezing temperatures, as gas burners heated rail switches to keep trains moving on a reduced schedule.

He said frostbite was possible within 10 minutes in the intense cold, which was forecast to linger for days.

Remnants of a weekend snowstorm continued to plague portions of the northeast United States - with strong winds and blowing snow reducing visibility on the roads.

One-to-two feet of snow was forecast in Wisconsin and six inches in IL, according to the National Weather Service.

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