No ‘feels like’ for this kind of cold

Antarc­tica not as frigid as Chicago’s fore­cast

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - John Ba­con, Doyle Rice and Aamer Mad­hani

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

JOSHUA CLARK/USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

Crys­tal Oestre­ich of Man­i­towoc, Wis., shov­els a neigh­bor’s drive­way af­ter snow battered the Mid­west this week.

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