The Latest: Extreme cold stops mail delivery in some states
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Latest on a major snowstorm and frigid weather in the Midwest (all times local):
You may have heard that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night ...” will prevent mail carriers from completing their appointed rounds.
But the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service apparently doesn’t include the cold. Wednesday, the federal service says it will not deliver mail in all or parts of five Midwest states because of a dangerous Arctic air blast.
The postal service says delivery and other services will be suspended in Minnesota, western Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and western Illinois.
The suspension also includes picking up mail from businesses and collection boxes, and picking up packages from residences and business.
The bitter weather striking much of the Midwest this week isn’t stopping one of America’s most formidable endurance tests.
The Arrowhead 135 is going on as scheduled in Minnesota, even as temperatures Tuesday dipped to 27 below (minus-32.8 Celsius), with wind chill of 48 below (minus 44 Celsius). It’s a 135-mile race in northeastern Minnesota where competitors can cover it by bicycle, cross-country skis or just running.
Race director Ken Krueger (KREE’-guhr) says this is one of the top three coldest years in the race’s 15-year history. He said he knew of only one competitor suffering a cold-related injury — frostbite.
But he says the people who enter “want a hard race” and organizers wouldn’t consider canceling unless heavy snow made it impossible to rescue racers in trouble.
This week’s life-threatening cold is dreaded even by hardy Northern Plains ranchers, who are used to weather extremes.
Northeastern North Dakota cattle rancher Dan Rorvig says cold temperatures are “a brutal, brutal thing” when they reach about minus 40 degrees (negative 40 degrees Celsius) — both for ranchers and their cattle.
Jeff Schafer ranches in the same part of the state, where the temperature Tuesday morning was as low as minus 26 (negative 32 degrees Celsius) and the wind chill was minus 58 (negative 50 degrees Celsius).
He says as long as cattle have shelter from the wind, they usually do just fine. Ranchers use trees, manmade windbreaks and buildings to provide that shelter. Schafer says another big concern is making sure their water supplies don’t freeze up.
American Indian tribes in the Upper Midwest are helping members in need with heating supplies as extreme cold sets in.
On the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in the Dakotas, many people live in housing that’s decades old and in disrepair, or in emergency government housing left over from southern disasters such as hurricanes.
Tribe emergency manager Elliott Ward says those structures don’t hold up well to extreme cold and strong wind. Wind chills in the area early Tuesday were as low as minus 39 (negative 39 degrees Celsius).
In northern Minnesota, the wind chill was as low as minus 59 (negative 51 degrees Celsius).
White Earth Band of Ojibwe (oh-JIHB’-wah) energy assistance manager Chris Fairbanks calls it “a scary situation.” She says officials are swamped getting people the heating help they need.
Just how cold is it getting in the Midwest? Cold enough that some beer trucks won’t be delivering.
The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reports at least two distributors will delay or suspend deliveries on Wednesday due to extreme cold.
Rod Fisher, general manager of General Beer Northwest in Chippewa Falls, said he’s worried beer will freeze in the trucks, especially on rural routes. His company is delaying and limiting some deliveries in its 14-county area.
Park Ridge Distributing of nearby Eau Claire won’t send trucks out at all on Wednesday. Manager Ryan Modl says it’s too hard on employees, the beer and the equipment.
Chicago city officials are taking to the streets hoping to convince as many homeless people as possible to go to warming centers and shelters. They know many homeless people are reluctant to stray too far from their belongings, so they are scouring areas popular with the homeless in the hope of convincing them to board city buses long enough to get warm.
Cristina Villarreal, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Family and Support Services, says: “We’re bringing the warming shelters to them, so they can stay near all of their stuff and still warm up.”
She says they can stay as long as they need to. She also says that one bus used on Monday night and the two buses used on Tuesday were staffed with nurses.
Officials in large Midwestern cities are working with churches and nonprofits to help vulnerable people amid the deadly cold weather.
Minneapolis charitable groups that operate warming places and shelters are expanding hours and capacity, and ambulance crews are handling all outside calls as being potentially life-threatening.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says city agencies are making sure homeless people are in shelters or offered space in warming buses. He also is urging residents to check on neighbors.
Officials at Milwaukee Rescue Mission say call volume is unusually high but there should be enough beds to meet the need.
Shelters, churches and city departments in Detroit are working together to help get vulnerable people out of the cold. Businesses are being asked to contact the city if they notice anyone in need.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has joined the list of Midwestern governors issuing disaster proclamations as frigidly cold weather starts hitting the region.
Pritzker released a statement Tuesday noting that plummeting temperatures are expected to hit Illinois on Tuesday and stay through Thursday morning. The Democrat calls the weather “potentially historic.”
Forecasters say the temperature in northern Illinois could dip to negative 27 degrees (negative 33 Celsius) with wind chill values as low as negative 55 degrees (negative 48 Celsius).
National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Miller called the frigid weather “life threatening.” He says records going back to the 1800s could be broken. He also notes that frost bite is possible within 5 to 10 minutes.
Governors in Wisconsin and Michigan have also declared states of emergency ahead of the cold snap.
A Wisconsin congressman is calling President Donald Trump “a moron” over a tweet that urged global warming to “come back fast” in the face of dangerous cold hitting the Midwest.
Hundreds of schools in the region cancelled classes through Wednesday, and the governors of Wisconsin and Michigan declared states of emergency amid wind chills as low as negative 60 degrees (negative 51 Celsius).
Trump has frequently cast doubt on climate change, especially when cold weather hits. His tweet late Monday wondering “What the hell is going on with Global Warming” drew a quick response from Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan.
The Democrat responded by saying: “Only a moron would not understand global warming causes huge temperature swings.”
Northern Illinois University climate scientist Victor Gensini said the cold snap is “simply an extreme weather event” and doesn’t represent the global trend toward a warming Earth. He noted the record heat currently in Australia.
Major universities in parts of the Midwest are shutting down because of the extreme cold blanketing the region.
Arctic air dipping into the region sent temperatures plunging Tuesday, and even colder weather is expected Wednesday.
Hundreds of public schools are closed from North Dakota to Michigan. The universities closing their campuses include the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Minnesota, the University of North Dakota, the University of South Dakota and Iowa State University.
Temperatures in the Dakotas and Minnesota dropped on Tuesday to as low as minus 27 (negative 33 degrees Celsius) with wind chills as cold as minus 59 (negative 51 degrees Celsius).
The National Weather Service says wind chills in much of Iowa could dip as low as negative 50 degrees (negative 45.6 Celsius) on Wednesday.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has approved a state of emergency ahead of dangerously cold weather .
Whitmer says the order will help address threats to public health and safety stemming from this week’s cold snap, which follows a snowstorm that buried parts of Michigan and other Midwestern states.
Hundreds of the state’s schools are closed Tuesday, including Detroit’s public schools, as cleanup from the snow continued.
Heavy snow and gusting winds also created blizzard-like conditions Monday in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and other states where officials closed schools, courthouses and businesses.
But it’s the plunging temperatures expected to start Tuesday that have forecasters especially concerned. Wind chills could dip to negative 55 degrees (negative 48 degrees Celsius) in northern Illinois this week.
Extreme cold and record-breaking low temperatures are settling across parts of the Midwest after a powerful snowstorm pounded the region.
Forecasters say the weather could be life-threatening.
Subzero temperatures will begin Tuesday, but Wednesday is expected to be the worst. Wind chills in northern Illinois could fall to negative 55 degrees (negative 48 degrees Celsius), which the National Weather Service called “possibly life threatening.”
Minnesota temperatures could hit minus 30 degrees (negative 34 degrees Celsius) with a wind chill of negative 60 (negative 51 degrees Celsius). The potentially record-breaking low temperature forecast in Milwaukee is negative 28 degrees (negative 33 degrees Celsius), with a wind chill as low as negative 50 (negative 45 degrees Celsius).
Minneapolis Public Schools announced there would be no classes through Wednesday.