Warnings of life-threatening cold weather for US Midwest
Region endures lowest temperatures in two decades closing schools and cancelling flights
Cars are covered with snow after a snowstorm in front of the George Washington Bridge, on Friday last. Photograph: Northjersey.com
As the Midwestern United States shivered through the region’s lowest temperatures in two decades and forecasters warned that life-threatening cold was heading eastward, officials in Chicago and other districts said schools would be closed today.
Icy conditions snarled travel across the Midwest and thousands of flights were canceled or delayed, days after the Northeast was hammered by the first winter storm of the season.
“The coldest temperatures in almost two decades will spread into the northern and central US today behind an arctic cold front,” the National Weather Service said yesterday.
“Combined with gusty winds, these temperatures will result in life-threatening wind chill values as low as 60 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit/ - 51 degrees Celsius).”
In weather that cold, frostbite can set in on uncovered skin in a matter of minutes, experts warned.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton ordered all public schools in the state closed on Monday to protect children from dangerously cold weather.
Chicago public schools followed suit saying in a statement on its website that it would be dangerous for children to commute to school amid sub-zero temperatures and high winds.
The NWS said the widespread chill was a result of a relatively infrequent alignment of weather conditions, allowing the Arctic polar vortex to be displaced unusually far south.
“The weather pattern across North America right now is set up to be very favorable for the southward transport of Arctic air,” said Bob Oravec, a National Weather Service meteorologist. “It’s not going to be long-lived,” he added. “By the end of the week the temperatures definitely start to moderate across the whole of the country.”
National Football League fans braved the Wisconsin weather to see the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers 23-20 on a last-second field goal by kicker Phil Dawson.
Jacquie Tucker Braun, 44, was undaunted by a forecast for temperatures below zero F (-17.8 C). “It’s going to be a challenge to stay warm, but we’re up to it,” said Ms Braun, who plans to bring her 14-year-old son Gryphon to the game. She is bundling up for the game, wearing four layers on top and three layers on the bottom, along with two pairs of socks and two pairs of gloves. “Being a Packers fan is in your blood, hereditary even.”
Officials at the Packers’ Lambeau Field had promised fans two free hot cocoa or coffee drinks, sports network ESPN reported.
Elsewhere in the Midwest, forecasters warned Chicago and Indianapolis could see overnight lows of minus 12 F (-24 C), Minneapolis minus 29 F (-34 C) and Fargo, North Dakota, minus 31 F (-31 C).
The coldest temperature reported in the lower 48 states on Sunday was minus 40 F (-40 C) in the towns of Babbitt and Embarrass, Minnesota, according to the National Weather Service.
In Minnesota, hundreds of residents were evacuated from an apartment building in Rogers yesterday morning when a backup propane heating system in use because of the extreme cold exploded, police said.