Record low temperatures in New York City – The coldest, most dangerous blast of polar air in decades gripped the country on Tuesday, closing schools and day care centers, grounding flights and forcing people to pull their hoods and scarves tight to protect exposed skin from nearly instant frostbite. Central Park in New York City broke a 118-year old record on Jan. 7 when the temperature dropped to 4 degrees. Strong winds pushed the wind chill well below zero. Central Park had a record low temp of 6° since 1896. The Tuesday temperature was 50 degrees lower than was recorded on Monday. La Guardia Airport in Queens also set a record low of 4 degrees. The old record of 11 degrees for Jan. 7th was set in 1968. Cold temperatures will continue on Tuesday with a high of 10 degrees and wind chills near -10 degrees. Overnight temperatures on Tuesday night will near 5 degrees with wind chills of -10 degrees.
Amtrak stopped running trains into New Jersey out of New York’s Penn Station for nearly an hour on Tuesday morning because of signal problems caused by the cold weather. Monday’s subzero temperatures broke records in Chicago, which set a record for the date at minus 16, and Fort Wayne, Ind., where the mercury fell to 13 below. Records also fell in Oklahoma and Texas, and wind chills across the region were 40 below and colder. Officials in states like Indiana already struggling with high winds and more than a foot of snow urged residents to stay home if they could. “The cold is the real killer here,” Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said Monday as he asked schools and businesses to remain closed another day. “In 10 minutes you could be dead without the proper clothes.” Highs in the single digits were expected in Georgia and Alabama, and wind chill warnings stretched as far south as Florida, with forecasts calling for minus 10 in Atlanta and minus 12 in Baltimore. Forecasters said some 187 million people in all could feel the effects of the “polar vortex” by the time it spreads across the country.
Tennessee utility officials braced for near-record power demand, while Ohio prepared for its coldest temperatures in decades. More than 500 Amtrak passengers spent the night on three stopped trains headed for Chicago because of blowing and drifting snow in north-central Illinois. A spokesman said the trains — coming from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Quincy, Ill. — are operating on tracks owned by BNSF railroad and crews are working to reopen the tracks. But there are signs things are returning to normal. JetBlue Airways, which stopped all scheduled flights to and from New York and Boston on Monday, planned to resume some flights Tuesday morning. Southwest Airlines operations in Chicago resumed Monday night, even if it was, as a spokesman for the Texas-based airline called it, “a trickle.” The Minnesota Zoo announced it would reopen to the public Tuesday. State lawmakers in Indiana planned to kick off their 2014 legislative session after a day’s postponement. And warmer temperatures — at least, near or above freezing — are in store for the Midwest. Indianapolis should reach 27 degrees on Wednesday, and other parts of the central U.S. could climb above freezing later in the week. myfoxny.com
Record-Breaking Cold Grips Chicago – The warnings from government officials were stern: stay inside if you can, limit your time outside and don’t drive unless absolutely necessary. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport recorded -15 degrees at 7 a.m. Monday, breaking existing Jan. 6 low set in 1894 and tied in 1988. By 8:30 a.m., the official Chicago temperature had dipped another degree, to -16. With the wind chill factored in, Monday’s temperatures were in the -40 to -50 degree range and even lower across the Fox Valley. By midday, the lowest recorded wind chill was in Aurora, at -47 degrees. DuPage and Porter recorded -46 degrees and O’Hare reported -42 degrees. A Wind Chill Warning that began at 6 p.m. Sunday was scheduled to remain in effect until noon Tuesday. There’s also a possibility that even the high temperature for the Chicago area could set a new record low. The all-time lowest high temp was -11 on Jan. 18, 1994, and Dec. 24, 1983. The last time O’Hare recorded a sub-zero high was Jan.15, 2009, with -1 degrees, according to National Weather Service meteorologists. For comparison, Monday’s forecasted high for Barrow, Alaska was 0 degrees. The chill was expected to persist Tuesday with negative air temperatures to kick off the day, only warming to a high of 5 degrees in the afternoon. Low temps could dip to -15, and wind chill values will plunge to -40. Aviation officials said airlines proactively canceled more than 1,600 flights at O’Hare for the day. The delays affecting those flights that were coming or going were averaging about 40 minutes, they said. Another 85 flights were proactively canceled at Midway International Airport, and delays there were averaging about 20 minutes. Customers were advised to check with their airline before heading to the airport. Monday’s cancellations were on top of the more than 1,300 flights that were canceled Sunday at O’Hare because crews reported icing issues. Midway had more than 200 flights canceled on Sunday. Several Northwest Indiana counties declared states of emergency due to extreme winter weather conditions in the area.
Sections of Interstate 65 and Interstate 94 were closed Sunday night to all traffic due to impassable sections and ramps, officials said. The Chicago Transit Authority said the weather conditions were causing problems with the switchers on several lines. TransitChicago.com maintains up-to-date system status and alerts. The bitter temperatures follow several days of snowfall. As of 6 p.m. Sunday, the NWS reported 11.7 inches of snow at O’Hare, 9.6″ at Midway and 11.2″ at the NWS office in Romeoville. The snow that fell Sunday at O’Hare — 8.7″ — exceeded the old recorded daily snow maximum of 6.2″ set in 2005. The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed more than 280 salt spreaders and snow plows as the system moved into the area. Illinois Tollway officials said they mobilized 182 snowplows. Illinois State Police said they handled nearly two dozen crashes Sunday morning and responded to several cars in ditches statewide. Officials warned drivers that road conditions were expected to “deteriorate” Sunday night and into Monday morning. The Kane County Sheriff’s Office warned residents that road conditions were “deteriorating rapidly” Sunday. “The higher winds are starting to cause roads to drift over and become impassable,” Lt. Pat Gengler said in a statement. Route 38 between Elburn and Maple Park was closed Sunday afternoon due to drifting snow causing the roads to be impassable, Gengler said. The deputy commissioner for Preparedness and Emergency Response at the city’s Department of Public Health urged residents to avoid unnecessary trips outside, work slowly and take frequent breaks when shoveling snow, don’t try to lift more snow than you can handle, and wear several layers. “The current snowfall and extreme cold temperatures expected next week pose significant health risks to residents,” Dr. Suzet McKinney said Thursday. Be sure to cover your face, ears and hands, McKinney said.
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