Deadly polar vortex blasts Midwest with record cold, dangerous windchills

By Travis Fedschun | Fox News

Minneapolis hit with -51 degree wind chills as polar vortex grips Midwest

A deadly and likely once-in-a-lifetime arctic deep freeze from the polar vortex settled in over the Midwest on Wednesday, shuttering schools and causing the U.S. Postal Service to suspend mail delivery in areas as forecasters warned people to keep their mouths closed if stepping out.

Wind chills of negative 54 degrees Fahrenheit were reported in International Falls, Minnesota and minus 52 degrees in Minneapolis on Wednesday morning while Des Moines, Iowa reported a bitterly cold wind chill of minus 42 degrees and Chicago had a wind chill of negative 52 degrees just before sunrise.

"The heart of the Arctic cold has arrived," the National Weather Service's Chicago office said on Twitter . "The combined effects of the cold & winds are at their peak today with wind chills of -45° to -60° continuing. The afternoon highs today...yes the highs...will only be -11° to -17°."

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The cold snap also is causing travel disruptions throughout the region. United Airlines canceled about 500 flights at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport from Tuesday through Thursday, while Southwest Airlines canceled more than 700 flights at Midway International Airport in the same time period. Amtrak also canceled all trains out of Chicago on Wednesday and into Thursday.

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