A blast of polar air brought record-low temperatures to much of the US Midwest on Wednesday, canceling trash pick-ups, halting the mail and forcing residents who pride themselves on their winter hardiness to huddle indoors.
Temperatures have fallen to -30C in Chicago and -37C in North Dakota with wind chills as low as -52C in Minnesota on Tuesday.
"These are VERY DANGEROUS conditions and can lead to frostbite on exposed skin in as little as five minutes where wind chill values are below -50 (-45C)", the National Weather Service tweeted.
But how exactly did all that happen? These tubes are thin, and if there's any moisture in them when temperatures drop to extreme levels, they can freeze, causing blockages that prevent fuel from flowing. Weather.com says that Minneapolis, MN, will see a low of minus 31 Thursday morning, while International Falls, MN, will reach as low as minus 37.
In Chicago, temperatures were still dropping after plunging early Wednesday to minus 19 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 28 degrees Celsius), breaking the day's previous record low set in 1966. "I feel sorry for anybody that has to stay outside".
The Amtrak passenger rail service canceled all trains in and out of Chicago on Wednesday. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp shut government offices in 35 counties on Tuesday, and schools across swaths of the state were also closed.
The US National Weather Service has warned the eastern region to brace for "bitter cold temperatures and wind chills". Nonessential employees would stay home.
During the early Wednesday morning hours, much of the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and IL are locked down with these "feels like" temperatures in the -40s, -50s, and even -60s (Fahrenheit) as winds howl out of the west at up to 25mph.
"The priority must continue to be on keeping people safe", she said. "There is a real risk of hypothermia and frostbite". They added that the city offered "shelter for homeless residents, warming centers and well-being checks".
Burke Patten, spokesman for Chicago homeless shelter provider The Night Ministry, said some of the homeless were reluctant to go to shelters.
It is worth noting that just before the Arctic outbreak in the central United States, Australia experienced a severe heatwave in the midst of summer down under.
"The concern would be whether they are going to be able to survive in these bitter cold temperatures", Patten told AFP.
Environment Canada reported record-breaking snowfall at the Ottawa airport, where some 50 flights were cancelled, with an accumulation of almost a metre (more than three feet).
A young man waits on a subway platform in freezing temperatures on January 30, 2019 in NY. "I gotta pick up my medication at Walgreens or else I wouldn't be out the door".
Remnants of a weekend snowstorm continued to plague portions of the northeast United States - with strong winds and blowing snow reducing visibility on roads. One-to-two feet of snow was forecast in Wisconsin, and six inches in IL.
A man orders food at a food cart as snow falls in the Financial District.