Amy B Wang
Reporter for general assignment on national and current news
Extreme weather, natural disasters, climate change
Reporter for general assignment on national and current news  January 31 at 12:41 PM
MADISON, Wisconsin – Millions of people in the Midwest suffer a frost that is normally reserved for the Arctic Circle when Wednesday's temperatures dropped to almost 50 degrees. The frightful cold, which hit lows on Thursday, was blamed for several deaths across the region, and fears for the most vulnerable populations increased.
Carroll, Illinois, a weather forecaster, reported that Thursday morning temperatures dropped to minus 38 degrees, the National Weather Service said. If that were the case, this would be the lowest temperature of the state recorded. On January 5, 1999, a day at minus 36 degrees Celsius was displaced in Congerville.
The cold temperatures throughout the Midwest taxed the infrastructure that kept the coldest parts of America warm. The power grids collapsed, the gas pipelines of the aircraft froze, and the authorities encouraged the predominantly in-house population of the hardest hit states to turn down thermostats to relieve the supply systems. Even that was not always enough. Power failures broke out in Wisconsin and Iowa, breaking down thousands into a short, unheated darkness.
The dry, cold air caused frostbite within minutes, leading to spontaneous nosebleeds, and even made a brief foray into potentially lethal activity. State officials have linked at least six deaths to the weather, including several people killed in Milwaukee, Detroit and Rochester, Minn. The authorities said a death reported in Peoria, Illinois may also have been weather related
Iowa University officials said an "unresponsive" student was discovered behind an academic hall and later died in the hospital. The authorities have not released a cause of death, but the police told a local television station that extreme weather was a factor. The Press Citizen reported that the air temperature was minus 22 at the time the student was found, with a wind shower of minus 51.
The courses at the university were canceled from Tuesday night until noon Thursday due to the weather. "We urge students, faculty, and staff to use sound judgment and avoid serious risks in these extreme weather conditions," the school said on a campus alert.
The governors in Wisconsin and Michigan declared the state of emergency and ordered all government agencies closed; Some state agencies in Illinois were also closed.
"I urge people to prepare for this storm and to be careful when traveling or going outside," said Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers. Cotton, Minn.
had a record low of minus 56 on Thursday. In Moline, Illinois (USA), the thermometer dropped by minus 33 degrees Celsius, five degrees less than the old record of minus 28 set in 1996. Rockford, Ill., Hit at -30 degrees Celsius at 6:45 pm, the record-breaking record of minus 27 on January 20, 1982.
The Capitol building in Madison, where people sought shelter during business hours, remained open, when the outside temperatures dropped to minus 24; the estimated wind shower gave the impression of minus 48 degrees.
It was colder than Alaska's North Slope in many places. Norris Camp, Minn. Where Wednesday's temperatures dropped to minus 48 degrees and the wind dropped to minus 65 degrees, Wednesday night was the coldest in the United States and one of the coldest places in the world.
] Even Hell, Mich., Froze over: In the community outside Ann Arbor, temperatures were expected to drop to -26 by Thursday. The nearby University of Michigan took the rare step of canceling classes until Thursday.
From Minnesota to Michigan, the Polar Vortex caused school closures, postal service interruptions, and thousands of flight cancellations, most of them inside and outside of Chicago. Numerous restaurants, grocery stores and cafés are closed during the day or business hours are shortened. In Chicago, "Disney on Ice" and the musical "Hamilton" were among the many performances that took place. In this weather, the show could not go on.
For the weakest in the region – even for the long winters of the Upper Midwest – this polar vortex was particularly dangerous.
Karen Andro, Director of Hope's Home Ministries in Madison's first United Methodist Church has spent much of its time in recent days coordinating with other nonprofits and government agencies for transportation, hot meals, and thermal centers to arrange for the homeless of the city. She thought about past winters, when one person had frozen to death on the steps of one church and another had a heart attack when she came in between the shelters, saying the services had improved here.
"The cold worsened everything," said Andro homeless people with mental illness, disabilities and health problems are at extreme risk.
Early Wednesday morning there was a small but dangerous gap. An hour before sunrise, dozens of men packed up carrying their belongings in shopping bags and suitcases plunged into the cold morning air. It was minus 24 degrees and winds felt like minus 48.
"You should take a bus and move right here," said Randy George Friesen, 66, who carried two bags six blocks from the emergency shelter. There he slept Tuesday night at the headquarters of Porchlight, an organization that supports the homeless. The man's glasses were frosted, his snow-white beard was frozen, and he had a blue blanket with scarves tied around his broad shoulders.
Friesen said he did not understand why there was no shuttle between the two warm buildings
"That will never happen," said Murrel Swift, 48, who also made the journey between the shelters. Tiny white crystals had accumulated on his thick eyelashes.
The nightmare manager Maurice Robinson was shattered in the shelter. One guest had attacked another with a bicycle lock and asked the police, the fire brigade and the ambulance company to land on Porchlight. On nights such as Tuesday, when temperatures are life-threatening, the city's shelters will not refuse anyone – even if a person has previously been banned for bad behavior or intoxication.
Porchlight was more crowded than usual, and Robinson had to do this Place people on mats along a hallway. At least eight men streamed in at 1:09 am, 2:22 pm, and 2:37 am within hours of the scheduled check-in time.
"The cold brings in many people," said Robinson.
Even a few houses in the Midwest were not cool-safe havens for die-hard residents.
Brian Wallheimer, a science writer at Purdue University, brought his three small children home in Rockford, Illinois, after the schools closed on Wednesday. The freezing air penetrated his two-story home northwest of Chicago, and he had accumulated on the windowsills and door hinges.
"I've never seen this before," said the 39-year-old Wallheimer as his children – 9, 6 and 4 years old – plans to build a fortress in the basement
In addition to primary school and university campuses across the Midwest, districts and colleges from Pittsburgh to Buffalo also dropped out due to extreme weather.
The windchillate estimate dropped to minus 50 on Wednesday in Dakota and North Minnesota. The Arctic air will ease its grip on the Midwest on Thursday afternoon. In Chicago and Milwaukee temperatures can even reach zero degrees. By the weekend, daytime temperatures in most of the Midwest will be above freezing.
As Chicago approached record lows before expected thawing, Chicago's Metra commuter train dropped trains after extreme temperatures caused wiring problems. The Associated Press reported that some Chicago Transit Authority buses became mobile shelters for the homeless, while Lyft stated that it would offer free travel to the city's thermal centers, as well as the Twin Cities, Madison, Milwaukee and Detroit.
In Rochester, Minnesota, where Wednesday's temperatures dropped to minus 27 degrees, all urban transit services were suspended after the buses had mechanical problems. Xcel Energy asks customers in Minnesota to lower their thermostats to 63 degrees (if possible) by Thursday morning to ensure that all our customers continue to receive gas during the bitter cold weather.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer On Wednesday evening, a similar request was made asking the Michigander in the Lower Peninsula to lower their thermostats to 65 degrees or less by noon Friday. It was called the "extremely high demand for natural gas and a plant incident".
Utilities' failure cards saw up to 13,500 customers in Wisconsin and Iowa experiencing blackouts on Wednesday morning. The workers tried to restore electricity to keep houses and shops warm in the cold.
Most failures were resolved within hours.
About 900 We Energies customers were out of power on Wednesday afternoon in West Allis, WI, for about one and a half hours after neighbors on a residential street heard a transformer pop and saw a spark just before the lights went out.
They closed their curtains to prevent cold air from entering windowpanes and opened closet doors to prevent the tubes from freezing.
"I was amazed at how quickly they got it back," said Dan Bark, whose house sits diagonally opposite the damaged power lines. "We've been trying to work out contingency plans."
He wondered if he should bring family and cats home to his mother. Bark has a generator, but it was in the garage – and frozen. He acknowledged that this was not ideal, but he had never seen the temperature sink so low.
"This is the coldest ever," Bark said.
Wang, Fritz, Horton and Wootson reported from Washington.
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