Dangerous arctic chill sweeps over US Midwest
CHICAGO Tens of millions of people in the United States were bracing yesterday for a potentially life-threatening deep arctic chill forecast to hit swaths of the country.
Companies have told their workers to stay home, schools are closed and hundreds of flights have been cancelled.
Even the US Postal Service - known for its commitment to bringing the mail whatever the weather - has reportedly suspended deliveries in Iowa due to the severe cold.
Temperatures in almost a dozen states stretching about 2,000km from the Dakotas to Ohio were forecast to be the coldest in a generation, if not on record.
"One of the coldest arctic air mass intrusions in recent memory is surging south into the Upper Midwest before spreading across much of the eastern two-thirds of the country," the National Weather Service said.
"Expect frigid temperatures, bitterly cold and life-threatening wind chills, likely leading to widespread record lows and low maximum temperatures from the Upper Midwest to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley."
The cause is a swirl of arctic air that broke away from the polar vortex that usually encircles the North Pole.
The National Weather Service forecast temperatures between -10 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 to -55 deg C) by Wednesday across the Midwest.
Chicago, America's third largest city, was expected to be colder than parts of Antarctica.
Authorities in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin put emergency measures in place to handle the frigid weather.
"We need everyone to do your part and make sure you and your families are prepared," said Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.