Up to eight dead as Arctic blast freezes US

A view of lake Michigan in Kenosha in the US. A large swathe of the Midwest is experiencing some of the worst cold weather in decades.
A view of lake Michigan in Kenosha in the US. A large swathe of the Midwest is experiencing some of the worst cold weather in decades.
Image: Getty Ímages

A brutal cold wave moved eastward on Thursday after temperatures in the US Midwest plunged to lower than those in Antarctica, grounding flights, shutting schools and businesses and raising fears of hypothermia.

The extreme weather has now been blamed for as many as eight deaths, US news outlets reported.

Mail deliveries were suspended and people were encouraged to stay home in nearly a dozen US states where the mercury plunged into the negative double digits, the worst freeze to grip the region in a generation.

The phenomenon stemming from a blast of Arctic air caused surreal scenes throughout the region, such as steam rising off the waters of Lake Michigan – the result of extremely cold air passing over warmer water below.

Parts of Niagara Falls solidified into frozen stillness, and blocks of ice covered the river winding through downtown Chicago.

America’s third city was in the direct path of the harsh weather and experienced its second-coldest day ever.

“This is a historic cold, obviously,” Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

“They are life-threatening temperatures and they should be treated accordingly.”

The Wednesday morning temperature in the Windy City was -30°C, which felt like -46°C with wind chill.

More than 1,800 flights were cancelled at Chicago’s two major airports, while rail operator Amtrak scrapped train services in the city.

The US Postal Service suspended deliveries in parts of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, the Dakotas and Nebraska.

Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin implemented emergency measures.

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