No ‘feels like’ for this kind of cold
Antarctica not as frigid as Chicago’s forecast
CHICAGO – The season’s most wintry roar paralyzed a wide swath of the nation Tuesday as temperature records fell fast. Parts of New York braced for up to 4 feet of snow, and Atlanta endured a blast of rain and snow as travelers headed in for the Super Bowl.
Wednesday, temperatures will continue to plummet and winds will howl as parts of the Midwest and East are overwhelmed by the polar vortex swooping down from the north.
Weather.us meteorologist Ryan Maue predicted that 250 million people would see freezing temperatures by week’s end, and 90 million would see below-zero temperatures.
In Chicago, schools were ordered shut for Wednesday and Thursday because of wind chill temperatures that AccuWeather meteorologist Elliot Abrams said could make it feel like 50 to 60 degrees below zero. That would be colder than Antarctica.
“It’s never been minus-50 in Chicago, so we can’t really say it ‘feels like’ – nobody really knows what that feels like,” Abrams said. “But you can get frostbite within four or five minutes.”
The high temperature Wednesday in Chicago was forecast to reach 14 below. There’s a chance that early Thursday, Chicago’s all-time record-cold temperature of 27 below could be broken, the weather service said.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared a disaster, citing “potentially historic” temperatures. Chicagoans took the weather in stride but prepared for the worst.
At Stella’s Diner in the city’s Lakeview neighborhood, co-owner Angelo Mavraganes said he would close the restaurant Wednesday for the first
time because of weather since his father opened it in 1962.
“If we open, business would be down 50 percent to 70 percent,” Mavragenes said. “A lot of our staff doesn’t live nearby. You don’t want to put anyone in a dangerous situation.”
In Grand Forks, North Dakota, the temperature dipped to minus-25 Tuesday, with a wind chill of minus-63, the National Weather Service reported. In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, officials warned that school would be canceled Wednesday if wind chill temperatures fall to 34 degrees below zero.
The wind chill in Minneapolis was forecast to reach 54 below Wednesday morning. The University of Minnesota canceled classes.
Parts of Wisconsin were hit with a foot of snow or more Monday. School districts, government agencies and businesses were ready to remain closed deep into the week.
“The intensity of this cold air, I would say, is once in a generation,” said John Gagan, a weather service meteorologist based in Sullivan, Wisconsin. Indianapolis could see recordbreaking cold Wednesday morning: Wind chills as low as 40 below are expected, the weather service warned.
“This is polar air,” said Mike Koch, a senior meteorologist with the weather service in Indianapolis. “That should tell you something.”
In western New York, AccuWeather warned that heavy lake-effect conditions could pound the Buffalo area with up to 2 feet of snow.
As the cold slammed the North, a snowstorm Tuesday pasted parts of the South. Atlanta endured a brief bout of snow before the storm moved away from the city. Hundreds of flights in and out were canceled, days before the Super Bowl, in a city not accustomed to combating such weather.
Nowhere was the forecast more ominous than in Chicago. Tim O’Halloran kept only his eyes exposed as he waited for a bus on the city’s North Side. “My plan is to get some food tonight and just stay out of the cold,” he said.
Madhani reported from Chicago, Bacon and Rice from McLean, Va. Contributing: Meg Jones and Nathan Phelps, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star
“This is polar air. That should tell you something.”
Mike Koch Indianapolis weather service
Crystal Oestreich of Manitowoc, Wis., shovels a neighbor’s driveway after snow battered the Midwest this week.