Brrr, big chill hits US Midwest, United States News & Top Stories

Brrr, big chill hits US Midwest, United States News & Top Stories”

Other cities in the Midwest will be even colder.

Streets in Chicago were almost empty, with few people walking outside in the painfully cold air as temperatures hovered around minus 18 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 28 Celsius).

Authorities and health experts warned that frostbite and hypothermia can could set in in minutes in the extreme cold.

The frigid winds were headed for the US East Coast later on Wednesday into Thursday.

Residents in Grand Forks, North Dakota awoke to a bone-chilling -35 degrees Fahrenheit, and it was -27 degrees in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Cities in the Midwest opened warming shelters as temperatures plummeted well below zero degrees Fahrenheit (-17.8°C). Her chickens, ducks and guinea hens were enjoying the 70-degree F (21 C) climate inside their greenhouse-like hoop house, she said.

Heavy snow was forecast in the northern stretches of ME and snow squalls were predicted for other parts of the east coast of the country.

"Wind chills of -30 to -60 (Fahrenheit) can be expected over portions of the northern Plains and Great Lakes region".

Even the Deep South, including Alabama and MS, could see snow.

"Not only is brutal cold invading the central parts of the country, accumulating snow and freezing roadways all the way into the deep south could make travel unsafe", the NWS said.

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.

United States media attributed at least five deaths since the weekend to the freezing conditions and a major snowstorm that preceded the blast of Arctic air now gripping the region.

Much of the Chicago River was frozen over. The extreme cold was "a scary situation", because much of the housing is of poor quality, said Chris Fairbanks, energy assistance program manager for the White Earth Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota.

The Chicago Zoological Society said it was closing the Brookfield Zoo on Wednesday and Thursday - marking only the fourth time the zoo has closed during its 85-year history - to ensure the safety of its employees and animals.

It's also now colder than Mars.

"People don't want to be out there right now", said Brennan Ellis, 53, who was staying at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries. "They are life-threatening conditions and temperatures".

He said ambulance crews were handling all outside response incidents as being potentially life-threatening. He also urged residents to check on their neighbors and take safety precautions.

The bitter cold is being carried by the polar vortex, a stream of air that spins around the stratosphere over the North Pole, but whose current has been disrupted and is now pushing south. Postal Service have shut down this week as a polar vortex brings negative double-digit temperatures to the Midwest.

This structure can weaken as a result of abnormal warming in the poles, causing it to split off into smaller "sister vortices" that may travel outside of their typical range.

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