Deep freeze ex­pected to ease, but dis­rup­tions per­sist

Sun.Star Pampanga - - WORLD! -

CDis­rup­tions caused by the cold will per­sist, too, in­clud­ing power out­ages and can­celed flights and trains. Crews in Detroit will need days to re­pair wa­ter mains that burst Wed­nes­day, and other pipes can still burst in per­sis­tent sub­zero tem­per­a­tures.

Be­fore the worst of the cold be­gins to lift, the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said Chicago could hit lows early Thurs­day that break the city’s record of mi­nus 27 (mi­nus 32 Cel­sius) set on Jan. 20, 1985. Some nearby iso­lated ar­eas could see tem­per­a­tures as low as mi­nus 40 (mi­nus 40 Cel­sius). That would break the Illi­nois record of mi­nus 36 (mi­nus 38 Cel­sius), set in Congerville on Jan. 5, 1999.

As

tem­per­a­tures bounce back into the sin­gle dig­its Thurs­day and into the com­par­a­tive balmy 20s by Fri­day, more peo­ple were ex­pected to re­turn to work in the na­tion’s third­largest city, which re­sem­bled a ghost town af­ter most of­fices told em­ploy­ees to stay home.

The blast of po­lar air that en­veloped much of the Mid­west on Wed­nes­day closed schools and busi­nesses and strained in­fra­struc­ture with some of the low­est tem­per­a­tures in a gen­er­a­tion. The deep freeze snapped rail lines, can­celed hun­dreds of flights and strained util­i­ties.

Chicago dropped to a low of around mi­nus 23 (mi­nus 30 Cel­sius), slightly above the city’s low­est-ever read­ing of mi­nus 27 (mi­nus 32 Cel­sius) from Jan­uary 1985. Mil­wau­kee had sim­i­lar con­di­tions. Min­neapo­lis recorded mi­nus 27 (mi­nus 32 Cel­sius). Sioux Falls, South Dakota, saw mi­nus 25 (mi­nus 31 Cel­sius). Wind chills re­port­edly made it feel like mi­nus 50 (mi­nus 45 Cel­sius) or worse. Trains and buses in Chicago op­er­ated with few pas­sen­gers. The hardi­est com­muters ven­tured out only af­ter cov­er­ing nearly ev­ery square inch of flesh against the ex­treme chill, which froze ice crys­tals on eye­lashes and eye­brows in min­utes.

The Postal Ser­vice took the rare step of sus­pend­ing mail de­liv­ery in many places, and in south­east­ern Min­nesota, even the snow­plows were idled by the weather.

The bit­ter cold was the re­sult of a split in the po­lar vor­tex, a mass of cold air that nor­mally stays bot­tled up in the Arc­tic. The split al­lowed the air to spill much far­ther south than usual. In fact, Chicago was colder than the Cana­dian vil­lage of Alert, one of the world’s most northerly in­hab­ited places. Alert, which is 500 miles (804 kilo­me­ters) from the North Pole, re­ported a tem­per­a­ture that was a cou­ple of de­grees higher.

At least eight deaths were linked to the sys­tem, in­clud­ing an el­derly Illi­nois man who was found sev­eral hours af­ter he fell try­ing to get into his home and a Univer­sity of Iowa stu­dent found be­hind an aca­demic hall sev­eral hours be­fore dawn. 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 In­di­ana and a Mil­wau­kee man froze to death in a garage, au­thor­i­ties said.

Aside from the safety risks and the phys­i­cal dis­com­fort, the sys­tem’s icy grip also took a heavy toll on in­fra­struc­ture, halt­ing trans­porta­tion, knock­ing out elec­tric­ity and in­ter­rupt­ing wa­ter ser­vice.

HICAGO — The painfully cold weather sys tem that put much of the Mid­west into a his­toric deep freeze was ex­pected to ease Thurs­day, though tem­per­a­tures could still tum­ble to record lows in some places be­fore the re­gion be­gins to thaw out.

A har­bor light is cov­ered by snow and ice on the Lake Michi­gan at 39th Street Har­bor, Wed­nes­day, Jan. 30, 2019, in Chicago. A deadly arc­tic deep freeze en­veloped the Mid­west with record-break­ing tem­per­a­tures on Wed­nes­day, trig­ger­ing wide­spread clo­sures of schools and busi­nesses, and prompt­ing the U.S. Postal Ser­vice to take the rare step of sus­pend­ing mail de­liv­ery to a wide swath of the re­gion. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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