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01 February 2019, 03:57 | Dale Webster
Buffalo, New York is slammed by Polar Vortex
The US Postal Service - known for its commitment to bringing the mail whatever the weather - suspended deliveries in parts of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, the Dakotas and Nebraska. "You'll have to wait for the weekend, before you see any higher temperatures".
"Wind chill values of 30 to 60 degrees below zero will be common across the northern Plains, Great Lakes, and upper Midwest".
A blast of icy polar air brought dangerously low temperatures to the U.S. Midwest on Wednesday, causing at least three more deaths while halting mail delivery and forcing residents who pride themselves on their winter hardiness to huddle indoors.
Amtrak planned to begin restoring service to some trains after cancelling all service on Wednesday out of Chicago. Governors in Wisconsin and MI declared states of emergency and ordered all state government offices closed; some state agencies in IL were closed Wednesday, as well. Consumers Energy, the state's largest supplier of natural gas, asked its 1.7 million customers and others to set their thermostats at 65 degrees (18 degrees Celsius) or lower until late Thursday.
The extreme weather prompted President Donald Trump to issue a warning about the coming chilling temperatures. "What the hell is going on with Global Waming [sic]? Please come back fast, we need you". Trump flippantly tweeted Monday.
The bitter cold was caused by displacement of the polar vortex, a stream of air that normally spins around the stratosphere over the North Pole but whose current was disrupted.
This process previously played out in 2014, when a mass of Arctic air drifted south, breaking temperature records across the U.S. and causing the deaths of at least 21 people.
Ten deaths have been attributed to the sub-zero weather and a weekend snowstorm that deluged the same region. This figure will undoubtedly increase significantly once it becomes possible for emergency responders and social workers to make a more detailed accounting.
The freezing weather may have killed a man in Rochester, Minnesota, who was found dead outside his home on Sunday, according to a report by WCCO, a local CBS affiliate. Elsewhere, a man was struck by a snowplow in the Chicago area, a young couple's SUV struck another on a snowy road in northern in and a Milwaukee man froze to death in a garage, authorities said. The conditions that had to line up for that temperature to occur Thursday morning were a long shot, but not impossible.
USA homes and businesses will likely use record amounts of natural gas for heating on Wednesday, according to energy analysts. A 12-year-old child died after a heat lamp likely sparked a fire in a Pulaski County, Kentucky home.
While officials warned residents to remain on guard as long as the sub-zero weather persisted, authorities in MI and Minnesota were also asking them to turn down their thermostats to conserve natural gas.
Norris Camp, in northwestern Minnesota, was the nation's coldest location on Wednesday after temperatures there dropped to minus-48 degrees, measured by an official with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
In Michigan, homeless shelters in Lansing were becoming "overloaded", Mayor Andy Schor said. They added that the city offered "shelter for homeless residents, warming centers and well-being checks". Alert, which is 500 miles (804 kilometers) from the North Pole, reported a temperature that was a couple of degrees higher.
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