A woman braves the frigid temperatures in downtown Chicago.
A blast of Arctic air is gripping the mid-section of the
United States, bringing the coldest temperatures in two
decades, forcing businesses and schools to close and causing
widespread airline delays and hazardous driving conditions.
Meteorologists said temperatures were dangerously cold and
life-threatening in some places, with 0 degrees Fahrenheit
(minus 18 Celsius) recorded in Chicago, St. Louis and
Indianapolis. The chill was set to bear down on eastern and
southern states as the day wore on.
The frigid temperatures in the United States mirrored or
outdid those in such parts of the world as Almaty, Kazakhstan
where it was minus 2 degrees F (minus 19 C); Mongolia, where
temperatures reached minus 10 degrees F (minus 23 C) and
Irkutsk, in Siberia, where it was minus 24 degrees F (minus
In the United States, temperatures were 20 to 40 degrees
below average in parts of Montana, North and South Dakota,
Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska, according
to the National Weather Service.
It issued warnings for life-threatening wind chills in
western and central North Dakota, with temperatures as low as
minus 60 F (minus 51 C).
"Cold temperatures and gusty winds associated with an arctic
airmass will continue dangerously cold wind chills as far
south as Brownsville, Texas and central Florida," the
National Weather Service said.
The last time Chicago was this cold was February 1996,
according to Accuweather.com.
"The Arctic cold front responsible for the frigid blast will
move through the East Coast Monday into Monday night and
bring the coldest temperatures some have experienced in
twenty years," said Accuweather.com weather writer Mark
Oklahoma City and Tulsa schools were closed because of the
"It's a far cry from the days when our parents used to say 'I
used to walk uphill both ways in a snow storm to get to
school,'" said Oklahoma City filmmaker Cacky Poarch, 45, the
mother of two children.
"Now, we just say, 'It's cold. No school today,'" Poarch
The Arctic airmass will slam the eastern two-thirds of the
country through mid-week, the National Weather Service said.
Indiana was particularly hard hit. Offices and schools were
closed in Indianapolis and businesses were asked to close at
least until noon, if not all day, due to temperatures and
wind chill conditions.
Widespread wind chill warnings and advisories were issued
from eastern Montana and Wyoming through Minneapolis, Chicago
and St. Louis to the Atlantic seaboard.
The extreme cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia in people
and in pets in as little as five or 10 minutes, according to
meteorologist Fred Allen in a report for WeatherBug.
Excessive delays were reported at airports in Indianapolis,
Minneapolis, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland and St. Louis.
Farmers in the Plains states of Nebraska and Kansas were
worried that the subzero temperatures would kill off part of
the new winter wheat crop which, while typically hardy,
cannot always tolerate extremely low temperatures.
Ranchers in South Dakota were keeping an eye on cattle herds,
as hundreds of calves were being born in the life-threatening
In Kansas City, where wind chills were forecast at -20 to -40
degrees F (minus 29 C to minus 40 C), schools were closed.
Some roadways were shut down after slick conditions triggered
multiple early-morning collisions.
Lake-effect snow was set to barrel in off the Great Lakes,
dumping two to three feet of snow to the east and southeast
through Wednesday, meteorologists said.