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

Federal government actions hurt Sooke hatchery fundraising efforts

Funding denial comes on the heels of fishing closures

Stop work order at Sooke salmon hatchery devastates volunteers

CRD steps in as some volunteers give up their efforts

Oak Bay researcher’s Canadian English dictionary goes to print

How an unknown American hobbyist sparked a Canadian dictionary

Jesse Roper learns to create fire in the wild, in Sacred Knowledge web series

Ragnarock Studios production shares primitive skills with Islanders

Island athlete goes from hoop dreams to icy track

Cyrus Gray hopes to punch his ticket to Olympics in bobsleigh

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

SOOKE HISTORY: Pemberton Pool namesake remains a mystery

Historian believes it was possibly named after surveyor Joseph Despard Pemberton

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Most Read