34 states under wind chill alerts

Coldest air mass since 1996 predicted

January 6, 2014

"Itís just a dangerous cold"

—Butch Dye

Thirty-four states were under wind chill alerts Monday as a record-breaking blast of arctic air swooped down on the United States.

A whirlpool of frigid, dense air known as a “polar vortex” descended Monday into much of the U.S., pummeling parts of the country with a dangerous cold that could break decades-old records with wind chill warning stretching from Montana to Alabama.

The temperature was 16 degrees below zero with a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero Monday morning at O’Hare Airport, and the extreme cold is expected to stick around for the next couple of days, meteorologists said.

That’s colder than the South Pole in Antarctica, where temperature was recorded at 11 degrees below zero at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station before 8 a.m. It was also colder that Novosibirsk, a city in southwest Siberia, which was 6 degrees below zero, according to the Weather Channel.

Thousands of flights across the country were delayed or canceled, FlightAware.com reported. At midmorning, there were 2,471 delays and 3,282 cancellations.

The forecast is extreme: 32 below zero in Fargo, N.D., minus 21 in Madison, Wis., and 15 below zero in Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Chicago. Wind chills- what it feels like outside when high winds are factored into the temperature- could drop into the minus 50s and 60s.

“It’s just a dangerous cold,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Butch Dye in Missouri.

Multiple school systems throughout the United States were closed, as were many public and private colleges, houses of worship, zoos and some businesses, including ski resorts.

It hasn’t been this cold for almost two decades in many parts of the country. Frostbite and hypothermia can set in quickly at 15 to 30 below zero.

“The coldest air mass since 1996 will continue to bring dangerous wind chills in Tuesday,” the National Weather Service predicts.

During the past week, at least 13 people have died of weather-related causes- 11 in highway accidents, one from hypothermia and one, a woman with Alzheimer’s disease, who wandered away from her home, was found dead in a wooded area about 100 yards away, CNN reported.

The icebox conditions in the Midwest will work their way east Tuesday, CNN said. New York, which was forecast to reach 50 degrees Monday, could tumble to as low as minus 7 Tuesday.

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