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 Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid