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 As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.