Arctic Monday for 140 million as ‘POLAR VORTEX’ barrels across the US: 4,400 flights canceled, schools closed as far south as ATLANTA and the coldest temperatures recorded in 20 years
- Nearly 187 million people, more than half of the nation’s population, were under a wind chill warning or advisory on Monday
- The coldest temperature reported in a 24-hour period through Monday was -36 degrees at Crane Lake, Minnesota, while the warmest was 84 at Hollywood and Punta Gorda, Florida
- Minnesota officials took the rare step on Monday of closing all public schools; schools in St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee were also shut and schools in Washington D.C. and Atlanta will also be closed on Tuesday
- Thousands of flights have been canceled and JetBlue shut down its operations in Boston and New York-area airports in an attempt to correct the backlog of canceled flights; it will resume as normal tomorrow
- Experts have called the temperatures and freezing winds ‘dangerous and life threatening’ – warning that skin can freeze in just ten minutes in wind chills of minus 50; parts of Minnesota could be hit with wind chills of minus 60
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency covering 13 counties in the western part of the state on Monday afternoon and more than 300 Army and Air National Guard have been mobilized
PUBLISHED: 02:36 EST, 6 January 2014 | UPDATED: 22:49 EST, 6 January 2014
More than half of the U.S. is enduring a dangerously cold start to the week as a whirlpool of frigid, dense air known as a ‘polar vortex’ descended on Monday morning, pummeling parts of the country with a dangerous cold and adding to the brutal weather that has grounded more than 4,400 flights.
Record low temperatures have already been set; at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, temperatures of minus 16 degrees were recorded at 8am on Monday, beating the previous record of minus 14 set in 1988.
In Minnesota, officials took the rare step of closing all of the state’s public schools on Monday – the first time in 17 years. Schools across Chicago, Milwaukee and St Louis were also closed, while officials in Washington D.C. and as far south as Atlanta have announced school closures for Tuesday.
With wind chill warnings stretching from Montana to Alabama, much of the U.S. is experiencing the coldest temperatures in almost 20 years, according to the National Weather Service. They are expected to be 30 to 50 degrees below average in some cities – and the deep freeze is expected to last into Tuesday.
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Nearly 187 million people, more than half of the nation’s population, were under a wind chill warning or advisory on Monday.
The winds made it feel like 55 below zero in International Falls, Minn., and parts of the Midwest accustomed to temperatures that are cold – albeit seldom this cold. But even the coal fields of Virginia and West Virginia, the wind chill was negative 35.
- Canada is so cold residents are experiencing loud booms caused by ‘frost quakes’
- Miracle as missing New York man is found in Washington D.C. after family spots him in newspaper report
- Kansas City fountain dyed blood red in support of the Chiefs attracts ridicule for looking ‘like something from a horror movie’
- ‘It’s all mental!’: San Francisco’s bare-armed quarterback leads the 49ers to victory over Green Bay in -10temps
- Watch as the polar vortex instantly turns boiling water to snow
Every major weather-reporting station in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin reported temperatures below zero at 11 a.m. Monday, and South Dakota would have joined them if not for the reading of 1 at Rapid City.
The coldest temperature reported in a 24-hour period through Monday was -36 degrees at Crane Lake, Minn. The warmest: 84 at Hollywood and Punta Gorda, Fla.
The deep freeze is to blame for an estimated 13 deaths so far – almost all of them from traffic accidents. A man in Wisconsin died of hypothermia, while an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease was found dead in the snow about 100 yards away from her home in New York state after wandering out.
Meteorologists are warning of the dangers of the plummeting temperatures.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state emergency covering 13 counties into western New York, while parts of the state Thruway in western New York are be closed from 8 p.m. on Monday.
The snow is expected to drop 36 inches of snow in the next day-and-a-half, with lake effect snow in some areas up to four inches per hour. Cuomo said the storm could produce wind gusts up to 40 mph and wind chill temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero.
‘As this new winter storm develops, bringing heavy snow and high winds, I strongly urge all citizens in these regions to exercise caution, avoid travel, and stay indoors,’ Cuomo said in a statement.
‘To ensure an effective and rapid response to this winter storm, I am declaring a state of emergency, so resources can get to communities where they are needed as quickly as possible.’
The Division of Military and Naval Affairs is mobilizing more than 300 New York Army and Air National Guard citizen Soldiers and Airmen in western and central New York to assist local authorities if requested.
On Monday morning, Nashville was 40 degrees colder than Albany, New York. Memphis, Tennessee, was 20 degrees colder than Anchorage, Alaska. And Atlanta was colder than Moscow – either Russia or Idaho.
In the Great Lakes region, temperatures hovered in the negative 20s – before wind chill, which dropped temps to the negative 50s, making it very dangerous to go outside.
Meteorologists have warned about the weather ‘dangerous, life-threatening winds’, that could inflict frostbite on exposed skin in just 10 minutes.
Temperatures are so cold across the Midwest that antifreeze in residents’ cars could freeze, the National Journal pointed out. The popular brand freezes at 34 degrees – and the coldest temperature on Monday afternoon was minus 35 in Crane Lake, Minnesota.
‘Skin freezes in just five minutes with a wind chill of minus 50,’ said HLN meteorologist Bob Van Dillen as wind chills are putting temperatures in northern Minnesota at 60 below zero.
For a big chunk of the Midwest, the subzero temperatures were moving in behind another winter wallop: more than a foot of snow and high winds that made traveling treacherous.
Thousands of travelers remain stranded or delayed following a chaotic weekend of canceled flights. FlightAware reported that more than 4,400 flights had been canceled by Monday morning – on top of the 4,100 flights canceled on Sunday.
Chicago’s Department of Aviation said on Monday that airlines have canceled more than 1,600 flights at O’Hare International Airport. Another 85 were reported at Midway International Airport.
Delays at O’Hare were average about 40 minutes, while reported delays are about 20 minutes at Midway.
JetBlue also announced it would be scaling back operations at Boston’s Logan International Airport, Newark, JFK and LaGuardia in the New York-area in a bid to catch up with dozens of weather-related delays and cancellations. It is stopping operations between 1pm and 5pm.
Operations will begin to ramp up again at 10 a.m. Tuesday and the airline expects to be fully operational by 3 p.m. Tuesday. It will allow the company to rest crew and give it time to service aircraft.
The forecast is extreme: 32 below zero in Fargo, North Dakota; minus 21 in Madison, Wisconsin; and 15 below zero in Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Chicago. Wind chills – what it feels like outside when high winds are factored into the temperature – could drop into the minus 50s and 60s.
‘It’s just a dangerous cold,’ said National Weather Service meteorologist Butch Dye in Missouri.
It hasn’t been this cold for almost two decades in many parts of the country. Frostbite and hypothermia can set in quickly at 15 to 30 below zero.
Lorna West, a 43-year-old student and consultant from Columbus, Ohio, said she doesn’t believe people unaccustomed to such weather are ready for what’s coming.
A Chicago native, she said thermal underwear, lots of layers and ‘Eskimo coats’ with zipped hoods to block the wind were the norm growing up. ‘And don’t go out if you don’t have to,’ she said.
It was 5 degrees at kickoff on Sunday inside sold-out Lambeau Field for a playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers, one of the coldest ever played.
In the parking lot, Craig and Renee Heling of Waukesha, Wisconsin, set up a camouflage hunting blind behind his white pickup truck and tailgated next to a propane heater. He wore four layers of clothing up top, two on his legs: ‘Two wool socks on – right now, I feel comfortable,’ he said.
Wind chills: Left, a pedestrians walks in in Chicago’s South Loop with temperatures well below zero. Right, a graphic charts the average time it takes to become frostbitten by wind wind chill – a very real possibility in some of the most snow-ravaged spots in the country
Bitter: A dial, left, shows temperatures plummeting to minus 20 in south Minneapolis on Monday while, right, Hank Wade is bundled up in Lyndhurst, Ohio
Braving the chill: A rugged-up man walks near the snow-covered Lake Michigan in Evanston, Illinois on Friday
‘Well, my nose is about frozen. It feels like – I jumped in the lake the other day – it feels about like that,’ his wife said with a laugh. She was completely dry, unlike New Year’s Day when she took part in a ‘polar plunge’ into Lake Michigan.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard upgraded the city’s travel emergency level to ‘red,’ making it illegal for anyone to drive except for emergencies or seeking shelter. The last time the city issued such a travel warning was during the 1978 blizzard.
For several Midwestern states, the bitter cold was adding to problems caused by a weekend snow storm. The National Weather Service said the snowfall at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport totaled more than 11 inches as of 6 p.m. Sunday – the most since the Feb. 2, 2011, storm that shut down the city’s famed Lake Shore Drive.
Missouri transportation officials said it was too cold for rock salt to be very effective, and several Illinois roadways were closed because of drifting snow.
A bus taking the Southern Illinois University men’s basketball team home from a game at Illinois State got stuck in the snow Sunday night off Interstate 57, forcing the group to wait for a tow truck and make plans for a night at a hotel in nearby Tuscola, Illinois.
Damage: The front of the bus is shown entering the Idaho Power corporate headquarters building after it lost control, swerved through a parking lot and hit the building
More than 1,000 flights were canceled on Sunday at airports throughout the Midwest including Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis.
Many cities came to a virtual standstill. In St. Louis, where more than 10 inches of snow fell, the Gateway Arch, St. Louis Art Museum and St. Louis Zoo were part of the seemingly endless list of things closed. Shopping malls and movie theaters closed, too. Even Hidden Valley Ski Resort, the region’s only ski area, shut down.
School was called off on Monday for the entire state of Minnesota, as well as cities and districts in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana and Iowa, among others.
Chicago Public School officials reversed an earlier decision to keep schools open, announcing late in the day on Sunday that classes would be canceled on Monday.
Government offices and courts in several states closed on Monday. In Indiana, the General Assembly postponed the opening day of its 2014 session, and the state appellate courts, including the Indiana Supreme Court, said they would be closed.
Ray Radlich was among the volunteers at New Life Evangelistic Center, a St. Louis homeless shelter, who was braving the cold as part of search teams that seek out the homeless and get them to shelters.
Among those Radlich and his team brought in Sunday was 55-year-old Garcia Salvaje, who has been without a home since his apartment burned last week. Salvaje, a veteran, had surgery three months ago for a spinal problem. The cold makes the pain from his still-healing back intense.
‘I get all achy and pained all the way up my feet, to my legs, up my spine,’ Salvaje said.
Southern states are bracing for possible record temperatures, too, with single-digit highs expected Tuesday in Georgia and Alabama.
Temperatures are expected to dip into the 30s in parts of Florida on Tuesday. Though Florida Citrus Mutual spokesman Andrew Meadows said it must be at 28 degrees or lower four hours straight for fruit to freeze badly, fruits and vegetables were a concern in other parts of the South.
With two freezing nights ahead, Louisiana citrus farmers could lose any fruit they cannot pick in time.
In Plaquemines Parish, south of New Orleans, Ben Becnel Jr. estimated that Ben & Ben Becnel Inc. had about 5,000 bushels of fruit on the trees, mostly navel oranges and the sweet, thin-skinned mandarin oranges called satsumas.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2534477/Arctic-Monday-commute-140-million-Americans-polar-vortex-barrels-half-country-causing-coldest-temperatures-20-years-wind-chill-warnings-Montana-Alabama.html#ixzz2pio1sfxe