Saturday, 16 February, 2019

USA polar vortex: What's its like in Chicago when it's -30 degrees?

Polar vortex puts US Midwest in a deep freeze Is it safe to travel to Chicago? Latest advice as polar vortex brings extreme weather conditions
Sandra Phillips | 02 February, 2019, 10:41

By the weekend, Chicago was expected to bask in snow-melting highs in the mid-40s to low 50s Fahrenheit, along with other parts of the Midwest, the weather service said.

Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation professor at DePaul University in Chicago, said operations should be back to normal by midday Saturday unless snow forecast for Thursday night complicates matters further.

"It's got to be an nearly 50 degree difference, it feels like spring", said one commuter heading home from Chicago's downtown financial district, wearing only a sweatshirt to keep warm.

Sunday will be mostly sunny, with a high near 47 and a low around 38.

"The system was set to extend from the Dakotas through New England, with Chicago expecting temperatures to plunge as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit overnight Tuesday into Wednesday", it reported the weather service as saying.

The bitter cold was the result of a split in the polar vortex, a mass of cold air that normally stays bottled up in the Arctic.

Rockford, Illinois, was at a record-breaking minus 35 degrees Celsius on Thursday morning but should be around 10C on Monday.

At the National Weather Service in Duluth, there was "talk of making a run at the state record" before the sun came up, when temperatures would be at their coldest, meteorologist Geoff Grochocinski told The Post. "Here we are going right into spring-like temperatures".

The drastic switch - as much as an 80-degree change in some cities, according to Fox News - could cause water main breaks and overflowing rivers.

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America's northern neighbor Canada was also contending with extreme cold, with frozen water pipes, snarled travel on a major waterway, and temperatures as low as -40F (-40C) on Wednesday. By 2 a.m. Wednesday, Chicago had beaten that by one degree.

Officials in multiple states warned that the extreme weather should be taken seriously, with the risk of hypothermia and frostbite setting in within minutes of exposure.

Amtrak train services that had been halted since Wednesday in Chicago's hub resumed yesterday, as did USA postal service that was halted or limited in six Midwest states. At Midway International Airport, 254 flights were canceled and two were delayed.

All Chicago Public Schools will remain closed Thursday due to the impending freezing temps.

More than 2,500 flights were canceled and more than 3,500 were delayed on the morning of January 31, a lot of them out of Chicago's O'Hare International and Midway International airports, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.com.

The CTA plans to operate its train and bus service as scheduled, though delays emerged on almost all lines as rush hour began. About 1,700 flights in and out of Chicago airports were canceled.

Metra trains will run on a modified scheduled.

All Amtrak services on its short-distance trains and most long-distance service trains will also be canceled Thursday, Amtrak said. While officials believe his death was related to dangerously low temperatures at the time he was found, officials have not given a specific cause of death. Metra Electric service is suspended Thursday.

Others that were taken by this monster polar vortex include a Milwaukee man who froze to death in his garage, an elderly IL man who fell and was found frozen several hours later, a couple who met in a snowy vehicle accident, and a Chicago man who was struck by a snow plow.

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