News / USA

Record Cold Sweeps US

Fog shrouds Boston Harbor and obscures the skyline, Jan. 6, 2014, in Boston.
Fog shrouds Boston Harbor and obscures the skyline, Jan. 6, 2014, in Boston.
Ken Bredemeier
People in much of the United States are dealing with cold weather not seen in 20 years.

The National Weather Service is calling the polar air mass sweeping across the country "dangerously cold," and has posted wind chill warnings for Monday that stretch from North Dakota to New York in the north and as far as Alabama in the deep south.

The World's Coldest Temperatures

  • Antarctica: -89.2°C Vostok, Antarctica in 1983
  • Asia: -67.8°C Verkhoyansk, Russia in 1892 and Oimekon, Russia in 1933
  • North America: -3°C Snag, Yukon Territory, Canada in 1947
  • Europe: -58.1°C Ust'Schugor, Russia in 1978
  • South America: -32.8°C Sarmiento, Argentina in 1907
  • Africa: -23.9°C Ifrane, Morocco in 1935
  • Australia: -23°C Charlotte Pass, New South Wales, Australia in 1994

Source: World Meteorological Organization
The mayor of Indianapolis in the central part of the country, Greg Ballard, said the extreme temperatures are life-threatening.

"This weather combination that we are seeing right now with all of the snow and the cold is unlike anything that we've seen in decades in this area and I can't emphasize that enough. The cold really scares me and as such that we will have temperatures that are potentially deadly or certainly look like life-altering temperatures," Ballard said.

Veronica LaPage of Chicago told VOA's Kane Farabaugh she saw few commuters heading to work Monday morning in Chicago.

"I made sure to wear at least four layers and wear a coat I only wear once every three years today. Chicago transit had lots of delays, but I was lucky to hop a train as soon as I was on the platform.  But there were maybe 10-percent of the usual morning commuters on board my trip.  I'm glad I wore all the layers, or this morning could have been brutal," she said. 

Carl Erickson, a forecaster with AccuWeather, told VOA that wind chills in major East Coast cities could reach 20-to-30 degrees (Celsius) below zero, while in places like Montana and North Dakota those figures could hit minus 50 degrees.

“The good news is, although this is a very intense cold air mass system that we haven’t seen in decades, it will not be long-lived. Even as we go into Wednesday the winds will begin to lessen, the cold air eases, and although no big warm-ups it will definitely feel a little bit better Wednesday compared to the next couple of days.  Going into Thursday and Friday, looks like temperatures actually rebounding to near average levels, in the big cities by Thursday and Friday,” Erickson said.

  • A pedestrian covers up against single digit temperatures in New York, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Traffic backs up along I-75 due to icy conditions on pavement in Detroit, Michigan, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Ice in the Mississippi River flows past the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Isabella and Zadok Graff check on their family's beef cattle during freezing temperatures in Middletown, Illinois, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • A man is silhouetted against the arctic sea smoke rising off Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • Matt Frame brushes off a Buick at Ray Laethem Buick-GMC in Detroit, Michigan, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • Commuters gather under warming lamps on one of Chicago's famous "El" lines as they experience wind chills expected to reach far below zero, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • Two pedestrians go down a street in Chicago's South Loop with temperatures well below zero, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • Time and temperature signs in Lawrence, Kansas, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • Daryl Daugherty clears the sidewalk in front of his home in Carmel, Indiana, Jan. 6, 2014.

The cold and fresh snow measuring more than 30 centimeters in some places in the Midwest have created dangerous travel conditions, forcing schools to close and airlines to cancel thousands of flights.

Meg Skelly, of the Ottawa, Illinois Chamber of Commerce told VOA her community is virtually shut down with banks government buildings and other offices closed out of safety for their employees. 

Karen Brodbeck, the Director of Marketing and Community Relations for OSF at Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa says her hospital is only dealing with emergencies.

"As for my hospital, all non essential services seem to be on hold, volunteer programs and initiatives have been temporarily suspended."

Forecasters say the widespread chill is the result of a relatively infrequent alignment of weather conditions, allowing a so-called polar vortex to travel unusually far to the south from its normal place in northern Canada.

A polar vortex is a counterclockwise rotating pool of cold, dense air.  It is expected to knock temperatures in half the nation down to minus 17 degrees by Wednesday.

VOA's Kane Farabaugh contributed to this report

You May Like

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Crowdfunding Helps Save Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit

Smithsonian turns to Kickstarter to raise more than $700,000 to help preserve the spacesuit worn by the first man to walk on the moon More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ReduceGHGs from: Oregon
January 06, 2014 12:29 PM
Climate Change deniers are coming out from all corners to use the cold weather event as if it discredits decades of scientific study. Sad but true. We need more people to get actively involved to change our destructive course. Business-as-usual is dangerous. It is deteriorating the only habitat that can sustain us. Our future generations may well suffer from our neglect if we don't significantly reduce global emission. Please join the efforts. Apathy only advocates our current self-destructive path.
In Response

by: Norman from: Australia
January 07, 2014 7:46 PM
The coldness just proves again that the global warming theory based on CO2 emission is fraud. A good science must be able to pass tests of reality. The current global warming and climate change theories initiated by the UN's IPCC which often ignore natural factors, are apparently bad science.

by: John B from: London
January 06, 2014 11:55 AM
Yet another bad year to be selling global warming I guess. What with this, and a few ships stuck in record levels of polar ice, the global warming alarmists are soon going to have to find alternative employment if the 17 year warming hiatus continues.

by: mahbub from: dhaka
January 06, 2014 11:47 AM
Horibol weather

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs