These photos show how cold it is in the US Midwest
If you haven’t heard, it is cold in the Midwest.
And this isn’t normal “Midwest winter” type of cold — this is a deadly arctic deep freeze that plunged temperatures to as low as 31 degrees below zero in some places on Wednesday.
Many normal activities shut down and residents huddled inside as the National Weather Service forecast plunged temperatures from one of the coldest air masses in years.
The cold is attributed to a sudden warming far above the North Pole.
A blast of warm air from misplaced Moroccan heat last month made the normally super chilly air temperatures above the North Pole rapidly increase.
That split the polar vortex into pieces, which then started to wander, said Judah Cohen, a winter storm expert for Atmospheric Environmental Research.
In Chicago, temperatures were still dropping after plunging early Wednesday to minus 19 degrees, breaking the day’s previous record low set in 1966.
Snowplows were idled overnight in southwestern Minnesota, where temperatures dropped to negative 29 degrees. And the temperature in Fargo, North Dakota, was 31 degrees below zero.
Even though the cold did not reach states in the U.S. Southwest, including Arizona, it did cancel more than a dozen flights Tuesday and Wednesday out of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
A wind chill of minus 25 can freeze skin within 15 minutes, according to the National Weather Service.
At least four deaths were linked to the weather system Tuesday, including a man struck and killed by a snow plow in the Chicago area, a young couple whose SUV struck another on a snowy road in northern Indiana and a Milwaukee man found frozen to death in a garage.
Governors in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan declared emergencies as the worst of the cold threatened on Wednesday. Officials throughout the region were focused on protecting vulnerable people from the cold, including the homeless, seniors and those living in substandard housing.
“These (conditions) are actually a public health risk and you need to treat it appropriately,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday. “They are life-threatening conditions and temperatures.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.