All-time record low temperatures set as extremely cold air invades Midwest, U.S.

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Extremely cold Arctic air is spreading from Canada into the U.S. Midwest and Northeast on January 30 and 31, 2019. Extremely cold temperatures and wind chills to -51 ° C (-60 ° F) have disrupted normal life for the second day in a row and claimed lives of at least 9 people. The death toll rose from 4 to 9 in a matter of hours. Heavy infrastructural damage has been reported, including power and water supply disruption, and traffic chaos. 

Morrisonville, IL, recorded -36 °C (-36 °F) on January 31 and, if confirmed, may have tied the all-time record low for the state of Illinois set on January 5, 1999 in Congerville.

Moline, IL reached -34 °C (-30 °F) at 23:19 LT on January 30, breaking the previous all-time record of – 33 °C (-28 °F) set back on February 3, 1996. -37 °C (-36 °F) was recorded in the city at before dawn January 31.

Quad City International Airport, IL set a new all-time record with -33.8 °C (-29 °F). The previous all-time record low was -33.3 °C (-28 °F) set in 1996.

Rockford, IL also set a new all-time record low, with -34 °C (-30 °F) as of 06:45 LT, January 31, breaking the previous record of -32 °C (-27 °F) set on January 10, 1982.

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport measured -30 °C (-23 °F) on January 30, their coldest temperature in 34 years, when their all-time record low of -32 °C (-27 °F) was set.

January 30 was Chicago’s second coldest day in nearly 150 years – average temperature was -27 °C (-17 °F) (low of -31 °C / -24 °F and high of -23 °C / -10 °F). The only colder day was December 23, 1983 with an average temperature of -27 °C (-18 °F) (-31 °C / -25 °F and -23 °C / -11 °F)

Wind chills made it feel up to -51 °C (-60 °F) or worse.

Governors of Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan declared states of emergency, closing many schools and businesses.

The death toll rose from 4 reported late Wednesday to 9 early Thursday morning, January 31.

An 82-year-old man died of hypothermia in Pekin, IL and another one in Milwaukee County, WI. A 70-year-old man who wasn’t dressed for the cold weather was found dead outside in Michigan and another man was found dead without gloves or a hat near his neighbor’s house. 

Another man died after he was struck by a snow plow at the end of his driveway in Libertyville, IL. A 31-year-old driver died when he hit a light pole on Interstate 80 near Des Moines, Iowa. A 9-year-old boy died in a crash on an icy Interstate 80 in Nebraska and two people died in a car crash in Indiana after they lost control of their vehicle and spun into oncoming traffic.

At least 2 700 flights were canceled nationwide on January 30, more than half of them at Chicago’s two main airports. Another 1 800 flights scheduled for Thursday were also called off. 

The cold took a heavy toll on the infrastructure, causing power and drinking water outages. The U.S. Postal Service said they had to suspend mail deliveries in Minnesota, western Wisconsin, Iowa and western Illinois.

Cold high pressure over the Upper Midwest/Ohio Valley will slowly move eastward off the East Coast by Saturday, February 2, NWS forecaster Ziegenfelder noted January 31.

Temperatures will slowly begin to moderate as the air mass slowly warms. The wind chills will range between -45 to – 28 °C (-50 to -20 °F) over parts of the Upper Midwest on Thursday.

The cold air and upper-level energy will aid in producing lake effect snow, that will be heavy at times, downwind from the Great Lakes through Friday, February 1.

Meanwhile, upper-level energy over the Northern Plains will move southeastward to the Ohio Valley by Friday and off the East Coast by Saturday, February 2.

The energy will aid in producing light snow over parts of the Northern Plains that will move into the Ohio Valley by Thursday evening and into the Ohio Valley/Central Appalachians by Friday morning. The snow will move into parts of the Northern Mid-Atlantic overnight Friday, ending by Saturday morning.

In addition, a front will develop over parts of Central Canada overnight Friday moving southeastward into the Upper Great Lakes by Saturday morning. The boundary will aid in producing light snow over parts of the Upper Great Lakes/Upper Mississippi Valley overnight Friday into Saturday.

Featured image credit: NOAA

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