Arctic cold takes hold of much of US

Arctic cold takes hold of much of US

Arctic cold takes hold of much of US

In Toronto, where winters tend to be milder compared to cities such as Montreal and Ottawa, temperatures plummeted to -18C (0F).

And signs of the bitter cold are all around - most notably surrounding the Chicago River, which is now "smoking" and starting to freeze over while in the powerful polar vortex's grip.

According to the National Weather Service, the temperature in Chicago is forecast to fall to negative 24 degrees Tuesday night and 26 degrees below zero on Wednesday night.

The coldest recorded temperature was minus 8.8 deg c in Cotton, Minnesota, on Thursday, the weather service said.

A large swath of the United States was gripped by brutal cold and wind chills on Wednesday as record-low temperatures caused by a blast of Arctic air moved across the Midwest and into Eastern states, prompting residents to stay indoors. Parts of upstate NY will feel like 20 to 30 degrees below zero. Another was a University of Iowa student whose body was found behind an academic hall several hours before dawn, according to the Associated Press.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, officials warned that anyone venturing into the cold through Thursday morning could suffer frostbite in as little as 5 minutes. His death is believed to be weather-related.

One death involved an elderly IL man whose body was found hours after he had fallen trying to get back into his home.

Most of Canada was under some sort of weather warning - from extreme cold in the Prairies, Quebec and Ontario to heavy snows in Alberta and Nova Scotia.

Many temperatures in the Midwest fell below the high of 10 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 12 degrees Celsius) on Wednesday in Fairbanks, Alaska, a city of 31,000 about 120 miles from the Arctic Circle. The cold even forced the Lincoln Park Zoo to close.

Video footage this week showed boiling water freeze as it was tossed into the air in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and transit workers in Chicago, Illinois, set fire to train tracks to keep them from locking up.

The weather caused hundreds of traffic accidents, including a chain-reaction collision of about two dozen cars in Grand Rapids, Michigan, during a white-out on January 30, local media reported.

And while thousands of flights were cancelled and delayed, mostly out of Chicago, the flight-tracking site FlightAware reported cancellations were down to just over 750 and delays just over 130.

Detroit's three major auto makers all suspended or curtailed manufacturing and other operations to conserve natural gas, according to The Detroit News. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV canceled a shift on Thursday at two of its plants.

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