What, exactly, is a polar vortex? Every time that I think I am beginning to grasp the weather, a seemingly new term comes along that I have never heard of. Blizzards? Check. Winter Storms? Check. Polar Vortex? What the ____? The polar vortex is a mass of very cold air that hangs around the north and south poles of the Earth. This giant area of frigid air is normally kept in check around the poles by the jet streams, but due to unusual circumstances, it has drifted over the United States. While the US is pummeled by snow, sleet and freezing temperatures, the North pole is slightly warmer than it normally is at this time of year.
The jetstream just shifts enough … [the front] just moves in over the upper Midwest, and it just sits in place, and it allows the cold air to spread over the entire upper Midwest,” according to Todd Heitkamp of the National Weather Service in South Dakota. The polar vortex phenomenon is not a new occurrence. This exact circumstance happened in the 1990s, according to Todd Heitkamp. Additionally, Heitkamp does not like the term ‘polar vortex’, believing it makes the process seem more dire than it really is. It’s not really a phrase I like — it makes it sound a lot worse than what it actually is … This has happened before,” Heitkamp stated. The polar vortex can be dangerous, especially if people are not prepared for the intense cold wind, bringing wind chills of an excess of negative 20 and lower in some areas. In environments of sub zero temperatures, exposed skin can develop frostbite and some cars may not run properly. It is recommended to avoid going outside during the next couple days if at all possible.
Frank Giannasca, senior meteorologist with The Weather Channel, says it’s an arctic cyclone, it ordinarily spins counterclockwise around the north and south poles. While it tends to dip over northeastern Canada, it’s catching everyone’s attention because it has moved southward over such a large population — as many as 140 million Americans are feeling the freeze. There’s a variety of reasons why a chunk of cold air over Canada would break off our way. Chiefly, warmer air builds up over areas such as Greenland or Alaska, and that air forces the colder, denser air southward. Also, weather patterns can create the right conditions for the polar vortex to point south. But in this case, “this very well just may be one of those anomalies where it forces itself southward,” Giannasca said.
Is this a rare phenomenon? Yes, and no. Through the course of a winter, the arctic air can get displaced southward, typically into the eastern U.S. But it is uncommon for such cold air to cover such a large part of the country, happening maybe once a decade or longer. Amplifying this polar vortex are the extreme cold and brutal winds — sending places such as Fargo, N.D., at 32 below zero and Madison, Wis., at minus 21. Add the wind chill, and it will feel like minus 50s and 60s in some parts.
Could there be a polar vortex of this magnitude again this winter? Forecasts show temperatures around the country as a whole will begin moderating by the end of the week — that means the 20s and 30s in the Plains and Midwest, while parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast could be in the 40s. But, like any unpredictable weather phenomenon, whether or not this can happen again, “is hard to say,” Giannasca said.
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana | DMN – Indiana Governor Mike Pence has declared a “state of disaster emergency” for 29 counties affected by the severe weather that began on Sunday. “As a result of the severe snowstorms, extreme cold and dangerous wind conditions that have impacted counties across Indiana, I have declared a state of disaster emergency in the 29 counties that were most affected by the storm, and the State of Indiana stands ready to assist Hoosiers as needed,” said Pence in a news release issued this afternoon. “We will continue to respond to this serious winter storm and evaluate its impact on other Indiana counties going forward.”
The 29 counties are: Clinton, Delaware, Elkhart, Fulton, Grant, Howard, Jasper, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Lake, LaPorte, Madison, Marshall, Montgomery, Newton, Noble, Porter, Pulaski, Rush, St. Joseph, Starke, Steuben, Sullivan, Tipton, Vermillion, Vigo, Wabash, White, and Whitley. During an earlier press conference at the Statehouse, Pence praised local first responders, plow drivers, state police and National Guard for clearing roads and aiding Hoosiers in bitter temperatures he characterized as possibly the worst in 20 years. He warned, though, that dangerous conditions continue and people should stay in their homes to remain dry and warm.
“Our first word today is this continues to be a very dangerous storm. If people can stay in, and can stay home — they should stay home,” he said. “That allows our public safety personnel, our highway crews and local law enforcement and local transportation efforts to go forward in an unimpeded way. “But if people go out, I think it is important that they use common sense.” Across the state, there were 46,500 residents without power, more than 20 road closures and 52 travel warnings, officials said during the press conference. Several hundred people were also in shelters today. The Indiana State Police had around 300 troopers working today and more than 250 members of the Indiana National Guard had fanned out across the state to assist motorists, medical transfers and other needs.
At least 67,000 people in central Indiana lost power during Sunday’s winter storm or in the brutally cold aftermath Monday, and it won’t be restored for some for at least another day. As of 6:45PM EST, Indianapolis Power and Light reported almost 23,000 still without power in it’s coverage area. Duke Energy reported more than 8,000 without power in Indiana, 6,238 were in hard hit Hamilton County just north of Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and other city officials decided to soften travel restrictions in the wake of a winter storm and in the midst of the extreme cold, but Ballard stressed the danger is not over. In a news conference Monday morning, Ballard said the Marion County travel advisory would be changed to “orange” status beginning at noon on Monday. Even though the road status has improved, Ballard said companies should rethink the threat of firing workers who stay home due to the weather, and he said he still wants people to stay off the roads if possible, due to the dangerously low temperatures. “The wind chill is 40 below. You can die in 10 minutes if you’re not properly clothed,” he said.
Many of Indiana’s schools, businesses and municipal offices were shuttered Monday, and some planned to remain closed Tuesday, after the storm dumped up to 15 inches of snow and 35 mph wind gusts drifted some roads shut. Ballard said that about 400 people were in shelters set up by the city to give people refuge from the biting cold. Road conditions in Indianapolis were generally fair, considering the circumstances. Road crews have been able to plow many streets, and the interstates have also been plowed, but snow remains on the roads. Ballard said it was too cold for salt to be effective on the roads Monday morning, but he said crews started using salt again as the sun came out later in the morning.
Ballard said he’s now most concerned about the bitter cold air, the coldest in 20 years, now affecting the city. “It’s the cold that really scares us. We can always clear away the snow,” Ballard said. “Just a few minutes outside, people will be affecting by frostbite, they’ll get numb and they may not even know that they’re getting frostbite.” Ballard issued the city’s first red level travel warning since a blizzard paralyzed the city in January 1978. He lifted that ban at noon Monday, but said he wanted schools and businesses in the city to remain closed through Tuesday until the worst of the severe cold had passed.
Doug Carter, Indiana State Police superintendent, said the dangerous roads and subzero temperatures was hurt in citizens across the state. “I think they are in fear of what could come, particularly in regards to power,” he said. State Department of Homeland Security will assess today if more counties should be included in the state emergency declaration. “This obviously lays a foundation for us to seek federal assistance and a federal emergency disaster declaration. I am not at a place now where I can tell you or not if we qualify for that. But the snow totals are approaching record level in many communities.”
Department of Homeland Security will determine the impact midweek to assess whether a federal declaration will be sought, Pence said. Karl Browning, Indiana Department of Transportation commissioner, said while some roads were cleared of snow it could be until Wednesday for the packed snow and ice to melt away. Surface temperature needs to rise to 20 degrees for melting salts to work. “We will continue to have the snow pack, which is drivable. But it is also dangerous,” he said. “When the temperature starts to freeze up again over night we have the risk of ice forming and that will create additional slick spots.”
12,400 airline flights were delayed today according to FlightAware.com with more than 4,200 cancelled. 66% of the flights at Indianapolis International Airport were cancelled…65% at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. There are already almost 1,300 cancellations across the country tomorrow.
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio | DMN — A Steubenville, Ohio, high school football player has been released from a juvenile detention center less than a year after he was convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party. Ma’lik Richmond, 17, was released from the Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Detention Facility after completing his sentence. In a statement e-mailed to DMN, Richmond’s attorney Walter Madison said the youth had “reflected, learned, matured and grown in many ways” and was now a “better, stronger person looking forward to school, life and spending time with his family.”
In March 2013, Steubenville High School football players Ma’lik Richmond, then 16, and Trent Mays, 17, were both found delinquent – the juvenile court equivalent of guilty — of the digital penetration of an intoxicated 16-year-old girl at an alcohol-fueled party in Steubenville on the night of Aug. 11, 2012, as other teenagers watched. Digital penetration is legally defined as rape in Ohio and many other states. Mays was also accused of later sending text messages that included photos of the girl naked and was slapped with an additional charge of distributing nude images of a minor.
Richmond was sentenced to one year in juvenile detention. Mays was sentenced to two years and remains in juvenile detention. The judge classified both teens as sex offenders. The case, which was plagued with allegations that school officials and coaches participated in a cover-up, created a firestorm in the eastern Ohio mining community and garnered national attention partly because the events were widely shared on social media. A grand jury investigation into the rape led to four school employees, including the school superintendent, being indicted on felony charges.
Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Michael McVey faces three felony counts: one charge of tampering with evidence and two counts of obstructing justice. He also is charged with making a false statement and obstructing official business, both misdemeanors. Elementary school principal Lynnett Gorman and wrestling coach Seth Fluharty were both were charged with misdemeanor failure to report child abuse. Volunteer assistant Steubenville football coach Matt Belardine was charged with four misdemeanors: allowing underage drinking, obstructing official business, making a false statement and contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child. All four adults pleaded not guilty to the charges and hearings are scheduled for later this month.
TOKYO, Japan | DMN – The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi atomic plant plans to start cleaning underground tunnels believed to be part of the sources of radioactive materials poisoning the groundwater in the area. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) will first block the flow of tainted water between the damaged buildings and the tunnels. Workers will begin burying pipes in the ground to carry refrigerants in January, NHK TV network reported. In April, they are set to start draining the contaminated water from the tunnels.
Late last month, TEPCO said it had found new leaks at the No. 1 reactor, in addition to the previous ones discovered last earlier in December. The latest incident on December 24 may have leaked around 225 tons of radioactive water, Japan Daily Press reported. It turned out that the water in that area contained Strontium-90, a radioactive isotope of strontium produced by nuclear fission with a half-life of 28.8 years, at a level as high as 440 becquerels per liter. The current temporary limit for water to be released from the concrete boundaries is said to be 10 becquerels of Strontium-90 per liter. A TEPCO representative feared the water may have already seeped into the ground.
On December 21, Tepco said it had found a record 1.9 million becquerels per liter of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances at its No.2 reactor, the highest since the nuclear meltdown in March 2011. The discovery was made after high levels of radioactive cesium were detected in deeper groundwater at the No. 4 reactor. Previously, the highest level recorded was 1.8 million becquerels at the No. 1 reactor on December 13. It’s believed that the radioactivity in the groundwater at reactor No. 2 has been rising since November. Since the outbreak of the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, leakage of radiation-contaminated water has been the major threat to Japan’s population and environment, as well as to the international community.
The chairwoman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission warned last month that water exposed to radiation from the wrecked plant would soon reach the US. “The highest amount of radiation that will reach the US is of two orders of magnitude – 100 times – less than the drinking water standard,” Allison Macfarlane told Bloomberg. “So, if you could drink the salt water, which you won’t be able to do, it’s still fairly low.” According to Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, radiation released during explosions at the plant meltdowns and during subsequent leaks of contaminated underground water will reach mainland US shores by early 2014.
The San Francisco Bay area city of Fairfax, California, passed a resolution in early December calling for more testing of coastal seafood and ways to reduce radiation emissions from Fukushima. On December 4, the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), advised the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to consider dumping toxic water into the ocean after lowering the level of radioactive materials to below the legal limit. Meanwhile, according to a draft report released by officials on the Japanese Industry Ministry’s contaminated water panel, the Fukushima Daiichi plant could run out of storage space for contaminated water within two years. The report suggested covering the ground with asphalt to reduce the rain inflow and building giant tanks with more capacity, as well as installing special undersea filters to reduce the radioactivity of water that leaks into the sea. Currently, 400 metric tons of highly contaminated water is being produced at the site on a daily basis, much of it later flowing to the sea.
To tackle the problem, TEPCO has been running a test operation of an advanced water processing machine, known as ALPS, which can remove all radioactive materials except for tritium from tainted water. Its operation could be key to reducing the high levels of radiation in the water. TEPCO plans to clean up all of the tainted water through ALPS by the end of March 2015. It says that over 300,000 tons of radioactive water has been stored in 1,000 tanks at the Fukushima plant, and that the amount will double within a few years. In July 2013 TEPCO acknowledged the fact that contaminated water has been escaping from basements and trenches of the Fukushima plant into the ocean. Since then, the operator reported two major leaks of highly radioactive water into the ocean from storage tanks – a 300-ton leak in August and 430 liters in October.
Major setbacks have stalled TEPCO’s handling of the nuclear disaster amid widespread criticism and calls to put Fukushima-related work under government control. Earlier this week a former employee in the facility said that one of the reasons for so many leaks could be the cost-cutting measures applied by TEPCO, such as using duct tape and wire nets to mend the leaking tanks.
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana | DMN — Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is asking businesses and schools to remain closed through Wednesday as more than 30,000 people remain without power and midday wind-chills are at -41 degrees Fahrenheit. Public Safety Director Troy Riggs says police are only responding to emergency runs and weren’t taking accident reports except in cases of serious injury or death. “I want everyone to realize just how serious all of this is right now,” Ballard said. “This weather combination that we are seeing right now with all of the snow and the cold is unlike anything we’ve seen in decades, and I can’t emphasize that enough – the cold really scares me such that we could have temperatures that are potentially deadly or life-altering temperatures right now.” The mayor also urged people to check on elderly neighbors and to bring outdoor pets inside.
Today, cold temperatures were also causing utility equipment to fail in some places. Indianapolis Power and Light spokeswoman Katie Bunton said that “due to the extreme conditions, damage is significant,” Bunton said. “The vast majority of customers should be restored by Thursday morning.” IPL has enlisted help from neighboring utilities to boost manpower, she added. IPL now has 70 crews, representing approximately 260 workers, working now round-the-clock to restore power, she said. That number includes some workers who might still be traveling to Indianapolis to assist. IPL has had extra crews working since Sunday to restore power and planned to have extra manpower through Thursday, she said. As of 9:50 a.m., 8,124 customers of Duke Energy across the state were without power, including 1,190 customers in Morgan County and 202 in Hamilton County.
Police are investigating a possible cold-related death on the city’s Far Westside. The Wayne Township Fire Department responded to a cardiac arrest call just after 8 a.m. to a house in the 6700 block of Carlsen Avenue near North Girls School Road. Crews found a woman unconscious in the backyard. Michael Pruitt, spokesman for the fire department, said the death is possibly cold weather-related. Road conditions remain treacherous in much of central and north-central Indiana on Monday, the day after a winter storm dropped more than a foot of snow on some areas.
The Indiana Department of Transportation said Monday that blowing and drifting snow, along with subzero temperatures, have made clearing the roads all but impossible. “This is a dangerous situation, and all are advised to stay home until roadways can be safely cleared,” INDOT said in a statement. All lanes of Interstate 65 between Gary and Lafayette remain shut down because of hazardous road conditions. Indiana State Police said Interstate 80/94 is closed from mile marker 34 to the Illinois state line in northern Indiana and that U.S. 35 is shut down in Howard County from U.S. 31 to State Road 13 in Grant County.
Numerous other roads are also impassable and closed to traffic, but the list above represents the more heavily traveled roads in west-central Indiana. INDOT said abandoned vehicles are making it very difficult to clear the roads, aside from the blowing and drifting snow. Gov. Mike Pence ordered the National Guard to activate highway assistance teams in response to the winter storm Sunday. Additional teams were mobilized later in the day. Highway assistance teams will help rescue stranded motorists and will move people to shelters. There are 24 teams and 96 people involved in the effort. Teams were deployed from Lebanon, Johnson County, Shelbyville, Indianapolis, Brazil, Columbus, Richmond, Seymour, Scottsburg, Terre Haute and New Albany. Sunday was the second-snowiest single day on record in Indianapolis. The airport received 11.4 inches of snow.
I fell for it! I was definitely not alone but that is no excuse! It sounded just believable enough to catch on: Kim Jong-Un executed his uncle Jang Song-thaek by having him stripped naked and fed to a pack of starving dogs. Yet the story, which was first reported by a Hong Kong tabloid and then picked up in the western press, apparently originated with a satirical post on a Chinese social media network, turning a thinly-sourced horror story into an astonishing example of the media echo chamber gone awry. Kim did, in fact, purge his uncle and former second-in-command last month in remarkably high-profile fashion – the country’s official news agency called Jang “an anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional element” and “despicable human scum” when it announced his execution on 13 December. Analysts said that he was probably killed by firing squad.
The starving dogs version first appeared on 12 December in Wen Wei Po, a Beijing-friendly Hong Kong tabloid with a reputation for sensationalism. About two weeks later, it was re-reported in English by the Singaporean news daily Straits Times, which took the piece as a barometer of souring Sino-North Korean ties. Late last week, scores of western publications jumped on board, including CNN, NBC News, the Daily Mail, the New York Daily News, and the London Evening Standard. Yet as the US blogger Trevor Powell pointed out on Monday, the original report lifted the story nearly word-for-word from an 11 December social media post by Pyongyang Choi Seongho, a China-based satirist with millions of followers. The background of the personality’s page on Tencent Weibo, China’s second most-popular microblog, shows a cartoon Kim Jong-un standing on a balcony flanked by military aides, his arms raised and his middle fingers extended.
Choi’s post includes all of the grisly details that made their way into the American press: Jang and five of his aides were stripped naked, thrown into a giant cage, and “entirely devoured” by 120 Manchurian hunting dogs that had been starved for three days. Kim conducted the hour-long spectacle himself before an audience of 300 North Korean officials, it added. The media mixup comes amid former NBA superstar Dennis Rodman’s continuing efforts to dispel the country’s reputation for opacity and cruelty. Rodman arrived in the capital, Pyongyang, on Monday with a group of former NBA players including Vin Baker and Cliff Robinson – the ensemble plans to play an official North Korean team on Wednesday, Kim Jong-un’s birthday. “It’s about trying to connect two countries together in the world,” Rodman, the most high-profile American known to have met Kim, told the Associated Press. “People say so many negative things about North Korea. And I want people in the world to see it’s not that bad.”
I routinely verify stories regarding North Korea by checking sources that include the state news agency, KCNA, South Korea’s YONHAP News Agency and Daily NK which is a South Korean based news service with sources from inside North Korea. None of these services carried this lurid story but with it carried, in fact, by CNN and NBC News, I jumped the gun. My sincere apologies and I’ll try to do better next time.
Liz Cheney is dropping out of the Senate primary after her upstart bid to unseat Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi ignited a war within the Republican Party and caused a feud with her lesbian sister. Ms Cheney, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, confirmed her decision to quit in a statement released this morning, blaming family ‘health issues’. She said: ‘Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign. ‘My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and their health and well-being will always be my overriding priority.’
Liz Cheney has confirmed she is dropping out of the Senate primary after her upstart bid to unseat Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi ignited a war within the Republican Party and caused a feud with her lesbian sister. Ms Cheney, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, confirmed her decision to quit in a statement released this morning, blaming family ‘health issues’. She said: ‘Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign. ‘My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and their health and well-being will always be my overriding priority.’ ‘As a mother and a patriot, I know that the work of defending freedom and protecting liberty must continue for each generation. Though this campaign stops today, my commitment to keep fighting with you and your families for the fundamental values that have made this nation and Wyoming great will never stop.’
Ms Cheney’s campaign has been fraught from the moment she entered the race with an announcement on YouTube in the summer. Her decision to challenge Mr Enzi, a popular Senator with a basically blemish-free conservative voting record, angered the party,. One of the biggest criticisms of Ms Cheney came as she was painted as a carpetbagger after only moving to the state in 2012 from Virginia. Problems first arose in August after local media revealed that Ms Cheney managed to obtain a fishing license despite having not lived in the state for at least a year, as the law stipulates. In spite of the logistical location issues, her very public spat with her sister, Mary, was the focus point.
Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne said in a statement that they were ‘pained’ over the public dispute in November between their two daughters over their differing views on gay marriage. A week earlier, Ms Cheney had reaffirmed her disapproval of gay marriage on Fox News despite having a legally-married lesbian sister. ‘This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public,’ Dick Cheney and his wife said in a joint statement. Mary Cheney and her wife Heather Poe, who she married in 2012, both took to social media on to blast the candidate. ‘Liz – this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree – you’re just wrong – and on the wrong side of history,’ Mary Cheney wrote.
In a separate Facebook post, Heather Poe called her sister-in-law’s comments ‘offensive.’ ‘Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012 – she didn’t hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us,’ Poe wrote on the social media site. ‘To have her now say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive to say the least.’ The statement from the former vice president and his wife also appeared to be an attempt to bolster Ms Cheney’s run for the Wyoming Senate seat. ‘One thing should be clear. Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage. She has also always treated her sister and her sister’s family with love and respect, exactly as she should have done,’ said the couple.
Liz Cheney was asked on Fox News if she was flip-flopping on her gay marriage stance. Host Chris Wallace pointed out that while she had opposed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, she had also supporting the State Department’s plan to offer benefits to same-sex employees and their partners. ‘It’s not, and I stand by both of those positions,’ Ms Cheney said. ‘I don’t believe we ought to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. ‘If people are in a same-sex relationship and they want their partner to be able to have health benefits or be designated as a beneficiary in your life insurance, there’s no reason we shouldn’t do that. ‘I also don’t support amending the Constitution on this issue. I do believe it’s an issue that’s got to be left up to the states. I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage,’ Ms Cheney added.
In September her sister Mary Cheney, who legally married her longtime partner Heather Poe in Washington in 2012 and has two daughters, wrote on Facebook saying her sister’s stance on gay marriage was ‘dead wrong’. ‘For the record, I love my sister, but she is dead wrong on the issue of marriage. Freedom means freedom for everyone. That means that all families – regardless of how they look or how they are made – all families are entitled to the same rights, privileges and protections as every other.’ Liz Cheney responded to that message soon after, saying that she too loves her sister but this is an issue ‘on which we disagree’.
Ms Cheney’s strong stance on the issue of gay marriage may have had something to do with her bid to win the senate race in ultra-conservative Wyoming. ‘I am not pro-gay marriage,’ Ms Cheney previously said in a statement released by her campaign. ‘I believe the issue of marriage must be decided by the states, and by the people in the states, not by judges and not even by legislators, but by the people themselves.’ This stance is also a slight departure for the candidate in regards to her high profile father. Since as far back as 2004, Dick Cheney has maintained a pro-gay marriage stance. ‘Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it’s an issue our family is very familiar with,’ Mr Cheney told an audience that included his daughter while stumping in Iowa in 2004. ‘With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.’
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana | DMN — Almost 30,000 people are without power this morning in Indianapolis as weather forecasters warn that wind-chills will likely dip to 40 degrees below zero. Weatherman Paul Poteet says in the Indianapolis Star that “wind speed is key Monday, in two ways. First, you will still encounter visibility issues this morning with snow being whipped around by gusts up to 40 mph. For that reason, the winter storm warning continues until 10 am for central Indiana. Secondly, the wind’s effect on you is prompting a wind chill warning until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Those gusty breezes will drive down chills to as low as 40 degrees below today and tonight. It won’t be as bad by Tuesday night, but the chills won’t go above zero again until Wednesday morning.”
Poteet says Indianapolis could see 1 to 3 inches of snow from an upper level system moving in later Wednesday and staying into Thursday. The deep freeze gripping two-thirds of the United States has temperatures plummeting to unbelievable lows Monday. Much of the country will see the coldest temperatures in almost 20 years, the National Weather Service said. Some cities will experience chills 30 to 50 degrees below average. To put things in perspective, the weather in Atlanta and Nashville on Monday will be colder than in Anchorage, Alaska. And by Wednesday, nearly half the nation will shudder in temperatures of zero or lower, forecasters said.
Here’s what to expect across the country:
Astonishing cold in the Midwest
At this point, zero degrees sounds balmy. The afternoon “high” temperatures in parts of the Midwest won’t even get up to zero on Monday, the National Weather Service said. Throw in some fierce winds, and you get wind chills like 55 below zero in Duluth, Minnesota; minus 34 in Chicago; and minus 24 in St. Louis. The extreme weather prompted school cancellations Monday in many major school districts, including St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and Milwaukee. “It’s not just a snow event, it’s a cold event, and that’s what scares us,” Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said. He urged residents to stay off the streets, especially after nightfall.
The Southern Illinois University men’s basketball team, fresh off a game against Illinois State, got trapped on the side of Interstate 57 late Sunday and was prepared to spend the night on the bus, SIU Athletic Director Mario Moccia said. There wasn’t a massive amount of snow on the ground, Moccia said. Rather, it was the blowing snow that made the road virtually impossible to see. The bus driver decided to pull off the road and get out of the way of traffic until visibility improved. But when the driver tried to get back on the road, there was no traction, and the bus was stuck. “They’re just hanging out, they’re watching movies,” Moccia told CNN late Sunday night. He said the bus had plenty of fuel, heat and food, and the team was waiting for a tow truck.
Players later tweeted that they were going to spend the night at a nearby church in Tuscola, Illinois. “Somehow this eventful day/night has led to our team sleeping on the floor of a church in Tuscola. What a journey it has been,”Dawson Verhines tweeted. In Embarrass, Minnesota, residents wondered whether they might see their cold-temperature record of 64 below zero, set in 1996, snap like an icicle.
Deep freeze in the Deep South
This isn’t a joke. Hard freeze warnings are in effect across much of the Deep South, from eastern Texas to Florida. That includes virtually all of Louisiana until late Monday morning, the National Weather Service said. The arctic blast threatens to sweep subzero lows as far south as Alabama and plunge much of the Deep South into the single digits. Tennessee declared a state of emergency as it braced for the coldest temperatures since 1994 on Monday. “Temperatures will not get above freezing until Wednesday night,” the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said. It warned of rapidly falling temperatures and slick roads from flash freezing.
More than 2,400 flights have been canceled within, into or out of the United States for Monday, according toFlightaware.com, which tracks cancellations based on both weather and mechanical problems. That’s on top of the 3,800 flights canceled on Sunday. John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York was closed briefly Sunday morning after a plane carrying 32 passengers skidded into a snowbank while turning onto a taxiway. No injuries were reported.
As if the brutal cold isn’t bad enough, tens of thousands of Midwesterners are dealing with no electricity. More than 15,000 customers in Indiana, 6,800 in Illinois and 2,200 in Missouri didn’t have power overnight, according to utility companies. Chicago opened up 12 centers for residents to seek warmth, one of which was to stay open all night through Tuesday. Libraries and some other city facilities would also be open, said Evelyn Diaz of the city’s Department of Family and Support Services. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said 100 warming centers were open statewide.
The plunging temperatures and wind chills are a dangerous recipe for rapid frostbite or hypothermia. “Exposed flesh can freeze in as little as five minutes with wind chills colder than 50 below,” the National Weather Service’s Twin Cities office in Minnesota said. Over the past week, at least 13 people have died from weather-related conditions. Eleven people died in road accidents — including one man crushed as he was moving street salt with a forklift. One man in Wisconsin died of hypothermia. And an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease in New York state wandered away from her home and was found dead in the snow in a wooded area about 100 yards away.
This, too, shall pass
If there’s any good news about the biting cold snap, it’s that most of it should be over by Wednesday. That’s when a warming trend should begin, the National Weather Service said. In the meantime, those in the western part of the country don’t have to worry at all. Most of the West can expect relatively pleasant weather through Tuesday.
‘SISTER WIVES’ CLIP: CODY THOUGHT TO BE ‘PERVERT’?
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TOM & SANDRA GOOF AROUND AT PALM SPRINGS FILM FEST
The Palm Springs International Film Festival is a beautiful and fun stop on the march through the exhilarating awards season, and celebrities the world over congregated in the gorgeous desert community to celebrate film and film culture.