A historic and deadly cold snap, driven by the polar vortex, gripped a wide swath of the nation Wednesday, with temperatures dropping far below zero and wind chill numbers as unusual as they are dangerous. The polar vortex has caused temperatures to drop much farther south than normal, with temperatures in some areas of the Midwest similar or below those in Antarctica, where the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station hit minus 25 degrees. Temperatures fell to -30C in Chicago – colder than parts of Antarctica and -37C in North Dakota. Freezing weather will freeze 250 million Americans, and 90 million will experience -17C (0F) or lower. Meteorologists have said the some of the coldest wind chills were recorded in International Falls, Minnesota, at -48C.
“A record arctic air mass will persist over the central and eastern U.S. over the next some days,” the NWS warned Tuesday. “Wind chill values of 30 to 60 degrees below zero will be common across the northern Plains, Great Lakes, and upper Midwest.” “One of the iciest arctic air mass intrusions in recent memory is rushing south into the Upper Midwest before spreading across much of the eastern two-thirds of the nation,” the weather service said, notice of “life-threatening wind chills, likely leading to widespread record lows and low maximum temperatures.”
A state of emergency has been stated in the Midwestern states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois along with in the southern states of Alabama and Mississippi. Illinois State Police officers also saved 21 people who were stranded in a charter bus that broke down in sub-zero temperatures. The vehicles fuel supposedly turned to gel in its engine. “The Midwest and Great Lakes are well into this Arctic blast, with hazardously low wind chills widespread across the region this morning,” Dean said. “Air temperatures are well below zero, in the minus 10s to minus 30s for many. Wind chills of minus 20 to minus 70 will continue through early Thursday flirting with all-time record lows ever recorded.” In Michigan, the body of a Detroit man was found in front of a neighbor’s home, and in suburban Ecorse another man was found outside without a hat or gloves. A University of Iowa student was found dead Wednesday morning, and university officials believe the death was caused by the extreme weather.
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