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U.S. shivering through the coldest Arctic outbreak in 20 years

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 7th, 2014
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Much of the American Midwest is under freezing temperatures, howling winds and snow. It's on account of the polar vortex, which normally sits over the North Pole that has headed south. Even usually place with balmy, mild temperatures such as Savannah, Georgia, is feeling the chilly air. It's being called the coldest Arctic outbreak in at least 20 years. Wind chills have reportedly sent temperatures plunging as low as 40 degrees below zero.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - More than half the nation's population, as many as 187 million Americans reside in areas under the sway of the rare "polar vortex." Every state except Hawaii can expect some freezing temperatures.

Temperatures already hit 20 to 30 degrees below zero over much of the Midwest region this week.

Hard freeze warnings have extended all the way south to the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida. The entire northeast quarter of the U.S. is under a wind chill warning.

There are safety warnings to go with the bleak, wintry weather -- human flesh freezes in less than five minutes in sub-zero temperatures, the weather service warned.

The towns of Embarrass, Babbitt and Brimson in Minnesota all reached minus-40 degrees and that was the real air temperature, not the wind chill.

For the first time in 17 years, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton ordered schools across the state closed.

Travel has been noticeably stymied by the crippling weather. JetBlue Airways took the extraordinary step of grounding flights at four of the nation's busiest airports Monday, the three major New York airports and Boston's Logan International.

More than 4,500 flights into and out of U.S. airports had been canceled at the start of this week. More than 1,600 of the flights were at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport alone. Almost 300 had been canceled at Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport.

"It's tough on all of us. You can't stay out here real long," George Sipus of Indianapolis Power and Light said.

Trash and garbage collectors are also at significant risk. Josh Boxx, owner of Boxx Sanitation in Eau Claire, Wisconsin shut down on Monday because conditions were just too dangerous.

"It's a huge safety concern for our workers who have to be out in this cold, and it's hard on our equipment," Boxx told reporters.

It was so cold overnight that both train engines froze on an Amtrak train from Detroit to Chicago, stranding passengers for nine hours just past Kalamazoo, Michigan, until another train arrived to tug it the rest of the way home.

Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...

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