Midwest Is Colder Than Much of Antarctica

Even postal service has been called off in places
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2019 6:42 AM CST
Mail Service Called Off as Polar Vortex Hits
A worker clears snow from a train at the Metra Western Avenue Yard, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," reads the unofficial motto of the US Postal Service. It doesn't say anything about wind chills as low as -65 Fahrenheit. The USPS says it will be suspending service in some areas Wednesday, including Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and parts of Illinois, because of "extreme weather conditions" as the polar vortex causes dangerously low temperatures in the Midwest, USA Today reports. The move is to ensure the "safety and well-being of employees," the service tweeted, providing a full list of locations where service will be temporarily suspended. More:

  • Deep freeze. Mail delivery isn't the only thing being suspended as the deep freeze sets in across a huge area, the AP reports. Many schools and offices have closed and governors in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin have declared emergencies.

  • Trains to Chicago canceled. The many things canceled due to fearsome temperatures in Chicago include all trains in and out of the city Wednesday from Amtrak, which usually runs around 55 trains a day to and from the city. the Chicago Tribune reports. Amtrak says most Thursday trains are also canceled. Thousands of flights have also been canceled.
  • Colder than much of Antarctica. Meteorologist Ryan Maue says that heading into Thursday, Chicago and many other places affected by the vortex will be colder than the North Pole and much of Antarctica, USA Today reports. But other places, including parts of Siberia and Greenland, will still be colder than Chicago, he says.
  • Ice castles closed. Wisconsin is no stranger to cold temperatures, but with wind chills below -50 in some areas, much of the state has shut down, including the Ice Castles complex at Lake Geneva, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. "This is going to hit us right in the kisser," says Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. "Safeguarding life and safety are our No. 1 priority." Fargo, ND, meanwhile, has called off part of its Winter Frostival.

  • Staying safe. The New York Times has a guide to the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite, along with some tips on staying safe. Chief among them: "Do. Not. Go. Outside."
  • "This is historic cold." "This is historic cold," Officer Kraig Kalka in Madison, Wis., tells the Washington Post. "What we’re going to see, I don’t remember ever seeing something like that before." Like officers in many cities, Kalka was busy helping arrange shelter and warm clothes for homeless people.
  • Global warming is still a thing. The Detroit Free Press reports that with skeptics including President Trump wondering what happened to global warming, scientists are stressing that weather is not the same as climate, and the world is still getting warmer. "The way to think about this is kind of like what you had for breakfast each day, as compared to what you usually have eaten for breakfast over your entire life. So we could be in a warming trend and still experience a cold winter, or cold day," says Central Michigan University climate scientist John Allen, who notes that Australia is experiencing record-breaking heat.
  • Weather alerts. The National Weather Service, which calls this "one of coldest Arctic air mass intrusions in recent memory," has a map with the latest weather alerts.
(Read more polar vortex stories.)

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