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November 22, 2014
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

US: Schools shut, travel delayed on brutal cold

Pedestrians try to keep warm as they walk through downtown in below-zero temperature in Chicago, Illinois.

Bitter cold and high winds from the arctic pushed wind chills to dangerous levels across the US upper Midwest yesterday, forcing officials to close schools and slowing public transit and river traffic.

A winter storm system is forecast to move through the US South today, bringing snow, freezing rain and high winds as bitter cold temperatures continue in the Midwest, according to the National Weather Service.

Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee and other parts of the upper Midwest are forecast to have a second consecutive day of subzero highs on Tuesday, while most of the Northeast will see highs in the single digits and teens today and tomorrow, according to Accuweather.com.

National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Krein blamed the weather on a surge of arctic high pressure out of Canada that has spread over the upper Midwest and central plains.

Even weather-hardy Midwesterners expressed weariness with the sub-zero cold snap, the second this month.

"I'm real sick of it," said Romik Stewart, 20, who was waiting for a bus in Milwaukee to go to his job at a fast food restaurant. "I've had enough of this already. It's too much."

The weather will force schools to close today in New Orleans, Minneapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee, and government offices in Indianapolis, Galveston and Milwaukee County will also be closed.

Tulane University in New Orleans, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and The Ohio State University in Columbus have canceled classes ahead of today's storm.

Amtrak has also canceled a number of train routes in and out of Chicago on Tuesday because of the frigid weather conditions.

For much of the South, a winter storm warning will be in effect on Tuesday, including in New Orleans where winds will gust and ice and snow will accumulate on the roads, making travel hazardous, according to the National Weather Service.

Heavy snow was expected beginning on Tuesday across eastern North Carolina, while coastal South Carolina will get rare ice accumulation with some snow and temperatures will be below freezing these days, the National Weather Service predicts.

The frigid temperatures also were causing ice to accumulate on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, slowing the movement of grain barges to the U.S. Gulf, according to Drew Lerner, a meteorologist at World Weather Inc.

"I'm very ready for the spring," said 18-year-old Caroline Burns, a student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, as she walked from her residence hall to class.

Nearly 900 flights have been canceled within, into and out of the United States on Monday, according to FlightAware.com, which tracks flights.

Wind gusts of up to 35 mph knocked down power lines in the Dallas-Forth Worth area in Texas and temperatures were expected to fall into the 20s overnight from highs in the 60s and 70s over the weekend, the weather service said.

In Alaska, the roughly 4,000 residents of Valdez remained cut off to road traffic from the rest of the state after weekend avalanches blocked the road to the coastal town, officials said.

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