Amtrak canceled all trains in and out of Chicago on Wednesday.
At the Morning Joy Farm in Mercer, North Dakota, Annie Carlson said her horses and sheep were doing fine.
“They can go into the barn if they wish,” she said. “They’re snuggled in, warm and toasty.” Her chickens, ducks and guinea hens were enjoying the 21 Celsius climate inside their greenhouse-like hoop house, she said.
Andrew Orrison, a meteorologist with the NWS, said some of the coldest wind chills were recorded in International Falls, Minnesota, at minus 48 Celsius. Even the South Pole in Antarctica was warmer, with an expected low of minus 31 Celsius with wind chill.
Temperatures in Chicago will drop again “quite precipitously” on Wednesday night, Orrison said, potentially breaking the record low of minus 33 Celsius on January 21, 1985, the day of Ronald Reagan’s second presidential inauguration.
Banks and stores closed for business. Waste Management Inc , a major trash collection company, said it cancelled pickups in counties across the Midwest on Wednesday and Thursday.
The bitter cold was caused by a displacement of the polar vortex, a stream of air that normally spins around the stratosphere over the North Pole, but whose current was disrupted and was now pushing south.