Classes were cancelled for Wednesday and yesterday for students across the Midwest, including Chicago, home of the nation's third-largest school system, and police warned of the risk of accidents on icy highways. Experts say the rapid thaw is unprecedented, and it could create problems of its own - bursting pipes, flooding rivers and crumbling roads.
More than 40 cold-temperature records were broken on Thursday, the coldest morning since the polar vortex moved in late on Tuesday. As of 7 a.m., the lowest temperature Moline had reached was minus-33 degrees, a full five degrees lower than the old record of minus-28 set in 1996.
Train service Amtrak said it would cancel all trains in and out of Chicago on Wednesday.
By the numbers: A quick look at the record books show Utah temperatures aren't that uncommon from those we've seen in the Midwest. "They are going from well below average temperature to well above average temperatures".
Peter Sinks, Utah, holds the record of the second-lowest temperatures in the contiguous 48 United States at minus 69 degrees Fahrenheit, which happened on February 1, 1985.
Record low temperatures were also reported in some towns in Iowa and Wisconsin.
How is the cold snap affecting daily life?
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In Minnesota and MI, residents were asked by gas companies to turn down their home thermostats to help handle heating demands.
In Michigan and Minnesota, natural gas supplies were under threat.
Andrea Cusack, a pharmacist in MI, began using her snowmobile to deliver essential prescriptions to snowed-in residents, according to the Lansing State Journal.
The marsh around Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts remains frozen January 31, 2019 on a day where over 2000 flights were cancelled and delayed due to extreme cold and ice conditions caused by the Polar Vortex over the midwest and northern parts of North America.
But many parts of the country are moving towards more seasonable temperatures on Friday and over the weekend. With winds blowing at 5 to 10 miles per hour, wind chill would have been around minus-65 degrees.
Environment Canada was urging residents to limit their exposure to cold and keep pets indoors.
Canada did not experience a spate of deaths linked to the polar vortex like the US.
Warmer-than-normal weather was on the way, but that offered little comfort to vulnerable populations such as the homeless and elderly enduring cold that caused frostbite in minutes and made being outside potentially deadly.
Though nothing new (it's believed the term "polar vortex" first appeared in 1853), this month's weather event is getting a bit out of hand.