The Heat Is Online

Midwest Deep Freeze Sends Temperatures to Minus 37 Degrees

Midwest temps plummet to 37 below zero


'It's like a sea of whiteness; people can't see the road,' official says


The Associated Press, Jan. 13, 2009


BISMARCK, N.D. - Residents of the upper Midwest bundled up or just stayed inside Tuesday as a wave of bitterly cold air barreled south out of the Arctic, following on the heels of a fast-moving blizzard.


Some schools closed because of the cold and temperatures hit the single digits as far south as Kansas and Missouri.


Airlines had canceled more than 300 flights from Chicago's two airports in expectation of blizzard conditions Tuesday, Chicago Aviation Department spokesman Gregg Cunningham said. However, the weather service lifted blizzard warnings early Tuesday as the snow moved eastward.


Up to 11 inches of new snow was possible in Detroit, where streets were already slippery with more than an inch of snow Tuesday morning.


The coldest air spilled across the Canadian prairie into the Dakotas and Minnesota. Grand Forks, N.D., dropped to a record low of 37 degrees below zero Tuesday morning, lopping six degrees off the old record set in 1979, the National Weather Service said.


In northern Minnesota, it was 35 below zero in Roseau and 36 below in Hallock, with wind chills down to 45 below in Hibbing. Some areas saw blizzard conditions.


"It's like a sea of whiteness; people can't see the road," said Rebecca Arndt, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation in Mankato. "When the white fluffy stuff starts to blow, it is not pretty."


Dozens of Iowa schools were closed Tuesday or opened late and travel was not recommended across much of the northern part of the state because of the combination of the cold  minus 14 in Mason City with a wind chill of 37 below  and the 2 to 4 inches of windblown snow the storm delivered Monday.


At least two-thirds of Ohio was under a winter weather advisory and a blizzard watch covers a few counties as the state braces for more snow, wind and colder temperatures.


Heading east


The leading edge of the cold air was expected to strike the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and South late Tuesday and Wednesday. Residents in the Atlanta area could see temperatures in the high teens.


And meteorologists warned that a second wave could drop temperatures into the single digits Friday in the mid-Atlantic region.

What was left of that snowstorm was blowing eastward along the Great Lakes.


The weather service posted winter storm warnings Tuesday for parts of Michigan, northern Indiana and Ohio's northwest corner, saying they should be ready for plunging temperatures and wind gusting up to 40 mph.


In Grand Rapids, Michigan's second-largest city, The Grand Rapids Press reported police and fire crews would visit spots frequented by the homeless and urge them to go to a shelter.


"We don't want anyone in jeopardy," said Grand Rapids police Lt. Ralph Mason. "We're going to find a way to help."


Indiana police reported numerous crashes on slippery highways, including a truck that overturned and spilled 43,000 pounds of cheese, closing a busy highway ramp during the night in the Gary area.


'Snowed in'


In North Dakota, the Minot area got 6 inches of snow on Monday, on top of about a foot that fell late last week, and Bismarck collected 4. Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks all broke snow records for December, each with more than 30 inches.


Road departments have had little time to clear away the snow between storms.


"Four-wheel drives are useless  people are just snowed in," said Rhonda Woodhams, office manager for the Williams County, N.D. "People are calling in saying they're out of milk and diapers for their kids, or they have doctor appointments they need to get to. We're doing our best. And we don't need no more snow."


The weight of the snow in Bismarck collapsed a roof during the weekend and crushed nine mint-condition muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s, said Steven Jaskoviak, owner of Skovy's Autoplex. He estimated their value at more than $300,000.


"Those can be replaced," Jaskoviak said Monday. "But by the grace of God, no one was hurt. We had more than 100 people in the showroom on Saturday, and if it would have happened then there would have been loss of life."


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