Temperatures in the Windy City today are reportedly around -14 degrees while parts of the Chicago River have frozen over and could remain below zero from around noon.
Roughly 110 million people across the USA are facing the most deadly freeze in at least two decades as a polar vortex of extreme cold spins across the country after a powerful snowstorm pounded the Midwest.
Almost 90 million people will experience temperatures at or below zero degrees this week from the Midwest to New England, according to the National Weather Service, and 25 million of those will face temperatures below minus-20 Fahrenheit (-28 degrees Celsius).
"We've gone from snow to freezing temperatures, wind chill", Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a news conference.
The most intense cold was expected overnight Wednesday into Thursday, said Ben Deubelbeiss, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS).
"It feels like being close to dry ice", Leon Gilbert, 31, said.
Sandwich shop manager Daniel Gonzalez, 37, also reported to work-at 5 a.m. Elsewhere, a man was struck by a snowplow in the Chicago area, a young couple's SUV struck another on a snowy road in northern in and a Milwaukee man froze to death in a garage, authorities said.
At Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, a major regional hub for airlines, ground crews struggled with freezing equipment.
More than a thousand flights, close to two-thirds of those scheduled, were cancelled on Wednesday into or out of Chicago O'Hare and Chicago Midway global airports.
Even the U.S. Postal Service - despite its unofficial vow that couriers can not be stopped by "snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night" - was forced to suspend deliveries in some particularly frigid places.
"The jet streams associated with the northern polar vortex have weakened this winter season, and this has allowed bitter-cold air to drift further south of the Arctic region, where it would normally be confined".More news: Make designating a sober driver your game plan Super Bowl Sunday
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Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin implemented emergency measures.
Numerous cold-related fatalities were in MI, where the governor said the death toll was still being confirmed. "People may be in their homes, but they can do things such as online shopping", Zandi said.
A FedEx worker has been found dead outside in a western IL city that has been experiencing record low temperatures, and authorities are investigating if the extreme cold played a factor in his death.
Officials across multiple states linked numerous deaths to the frigid air.
Authorities and health experts warned that frostbite and hypothermia could set in in minutes in the extreme cold. It has been more than 20 years since temperatures as low as minus 49 degrees Celsius covered swaths of the Midwest and Northeast.
Temperatures at this range can cause frostbite on exposed skin in just a few minutes.
Officials throughout the region were focused on protecting vulnerable people from the cold, including the homeless and seniors.
"It's bad!" Pasquale Cappellano, a 68-year-old waiter, said as he smoked a cigarette while waiting outside for a bus on Chicago's North Side.
"The concern would be whether they are going to be able to survive in these bitter cold temperatures", Patten said.
Flight cancelations piled up throughout the United States, with more than 2,500 by mid-afternoon, stranding travelers such as Brandon Robinson who was spending extra days in a downtown Chicago hotel. Police told a local television station they believed the cold played a factor in his death. The snow squall is expected to have winds up to 50 miles per hour and zero visibility, according to the weather service.