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

Video Anti-Muslim Sponsor of Texas Cartoon Contest Draws Ire

Pamela Geller's supporters say she speaks truth about sensitive topic, while critics say she preaches 'that Islam is inherently evil' More

East Meets West in Exhibition Showing Chinese Influence on Fashion

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition juxtaposes influence of art, imagery and culture, from Imperial China to the present day, on Western fashion and design More

South Africa Begins New Love Affair With Vinyl Records

Enthusiasts say the 'rebirth' of vinyl is resulting in a rebirth of music in South Africa 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.
Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailandi
X
May 05, 2015 5:50 PM
Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailand

Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Russia's 'Victory Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

ussia is preparing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, known since the Soviet era as “The Great Patriotic War,” with a massive parade on May 9th of military hardware and millions of medals handed out to veterans or their relatives. But critics say the Soviet-style display of power and nationalism overshadows tragic scars during and after the war that still influence politics and foreign policy, especially in the current Ukraine crisis.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs