Big chill makes Americans quiver

January 07, 2014 - 3:00:28 am

Alison Mueller skies to work through several inches of snow along Woodward Avenue as the area deals with record breaking freezing weather yesterday in Detroit, Michigan. 

CHICAGO/CLEVELAND: A blast of Arctic air gripped the vast middle of the United States yesterday, with the coldest temperatures in two decades threatening lives, forcing businesses and schools to close and cancelling thousands of flights.

Shelters for the homeless were overwhelmed and oil production could come to a standstill as the severe cold, described by some meteorologists as the “polar vortex” and  dubbed by media as the “polar pig,” brought temperatures below minus 18 Celsius.

Temperatures were 11-22 degree C below average in parts of Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska, according to the National Weather Service. 

“Cold temperatures and gusty winds associated with an arctic air mass will continue dangerously cold wind chills as far south as Brownsville, Texas and central Florida,” the National Weather Service said.

In Cleveland, Ohio, where the temperature was minus 14 C and was forecast to drop to minus 22 C overnight, homeless shelters were operating at full capacity. 

The National Weather Service issued warnings for life-threatening wind chills in western and central North Dakota, with temperatures as low as minus 51 C.   Some 3,364 flights were cancelled and 3,155 delayed, according to FlightAware.com, which tracks airline activity.

Reuters

 

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