Polar vortex hits North America

Polar vortex: Parts of US set for record-breaking cold

It's so cold in Chicago people are being told not to talk or breathe too deeply

"This morning is some of the coldest of the temperatures across the Upper Midwest, and we still have some unsafe wind chills", Andrew Orrison, a forecaster for the National Weather Service, said in a phone interview. During the early Wednesday morning hours, much of the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and IL are locked down with these "feels like" temperatures in the -40s, -50s, and even -60s (Fahrenheit) as winds howl out of the west at up to 25mph.

Temperatures in Chicago will drop again "quite precipitously" on Wednesday night, Orrison said, potentially breaking the record low of minus 27 F (minus 33 C) on January 21, 1985, the day of Ronald Reagan's second presidential inauguration.

The National Weather Service is warning people in the IL city to cover their mouths and "to protect your lungs from severely cold air, avoid taking deep breaths; minimize talking".

The National Weather Service is going with minus-24 at sunrise Thursday, which would fall short. The bitter cold is the result of a split in the polar vortex that allowed temperatures to plunge much further south than normal.

Officials throughout the region were focused on protecting vulnerable people from the cold, including the homeless, seniors and those living in substandard housing. And the temperature in Fargo, North Dakota, was 31 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-35°C).

Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel said: "These conditions are actually a public health risk and you need to treat it appropriately".

About 1,300 of Wednesday's canceled flights in Chicago were at O'Hare International Airport, one of the nation's busiest airports. More than 5,000 people in the Twin Cities were without power Tuesday night, as the temperature fell to -25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chicago was turning five buses into makeshift warming centers moving around the city, some with nurses aboard, to encourage the homeless to come in from the cold.

It is extremely cold in the Midwestern United States, where forecasters are warning of "life-threatening extreme cold".

'Significant snowfall' forecast to bring further disruption and school closures
Up to 10cm of snow is predicted over the next 24 hours, with higher ground more susceptible to receiving a covering. A warning for rain and hill snow giving way to ice in Northern Ireland will last until 10.30am on Tuesday.

"This morning is the worst of the worst in terms of the cold", Orrison said.

In Detroit, where some water mains are nearly 150 years old, city workers were dealing with dozens of breaks, said Palencia Mobley, deputy director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Authorities warned that the extreme temperatures were life-threatening, as Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin implemented emergency procedures.

The US Postal Service suspended deliveries in parts of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, the Dakotas and Nebraska.

The cold air is riding behind an Arctic front that brought several inches of snow to the same region over the weekend. More than 2,000 people die every year across the U.S. in residential fires, with faulty heaters a significant factor in these disasters.

Another man, 55, froze to death in his Milwaukee garage after he collapsed shovelling snow. Cold weather advisories are also in effect across a broad swath of the central US, from North Dakota to Missouri and spanning into Ohio. "I can feel my skin tighten up".

The wind blows snow over the subway tracks on January 30, 2019 in NY.

America's northern neighbour Canada was also contending with extreme cold, with frozen water pipes and snarled travel on a major waterway.

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