2014 Polar Vortex

   2014 US and Canadian Trucking News – Effects of Polar Vortex

A whirlpool of frigid, dense air, also known as a polar vortex, came down last Monday January 13 2014 into much of the US and Canada, pummeling parts of these countries into a dangerous cold that could break decades-old records with wind-chill warnings that stretch from Montana to Alabama.

From a huge chunk from the midwest, the subzero temperatures were moving in behind another winter wallop. More than a foot of snow and high winds made travelling dangerous. Officials closed schools in cities including Chicago, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. They also warned residents to stay indoors and avoid the frigid cold weather. The forecast is also below extreme: 32 below zero in Fargo, ND: Minus 21 in Madison, Wisconsin, and 15 degrees below zero in Minneapolis, Indianapolis, and Chicago. Wind chills could drop into the minus 50s and 60s.

In Missouri, National Weather Service meteorologist Butch Dye said that it was just a dangerous cold.

It has not been this cold for nearly two decades in many parts of the country. Frostbite, as well as hypothermia, can set in quickly at 15 to 30 below zero. Between a heater that barely works, and drafty windows that invite cold air inside his home, Jeffery Davis has decided that he was better off sitting in a donut shop for three hours until it was time to go to work in downtown Chicago. So he ended up throwing three jackets, two t-shirts, two pairs of pants, two hats, a pair of gloves, thick socks, boots, and trudged down to the train stop in his South Side neighborhood, which took him within a few blocks of the library where he works.

51-year-old Davis is flabbergasted, since he never remembers it ever being this cold. And one after another, people came into the shop to buy coffee, while others, like Davis, just sat and waited.

29-year-old painter Giovanni Lucero says that he was prepared for the storm. To keep his pipes from freezing, he left the faucet running, and opened the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to let the warm air in his house reach the pipes.

Lucero also says that he stocked up on groceries yesterday. He was reminded while on his way to work that he would buy a four-wheeler truck, since there were accidents everywhere on the ice.

Roads were treacherous across the region. Meanwhile, Greg Ballard, the mayor of Indianapolis, has upgraded the city’s travel emergency to red, which made it illegal for everyone to drive, except for emergencies or seeking shelter. The last time that the city has issued a travel warning was during a blizzard in 1978.

National Weather Service meteorologist Philip Schumacher has urged motorists in both North Dakota and South Dakota – where wind chills were as low as the minus 50s – To carry winter survival kits and a charged cellphone in case they get stranded.

Chicago taxi driver Elnur Toktombetov woke up at 2:30 AM on a Monday, anticipating a busy day. By 3:25 in the morning, he was on the road, armed with hot tea and donuts. An hour into his shift, the windows of his Toyota were still coated with ice on the inside. Toktombetov says that people are not really comfortable with this weather. They were really happy to catch cabs, and that they even tip really well.

For several midwestern states, this bitter cold was adding to problems that were caused by a weekend snow storm. The National Weather Service said that the snowfall in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport totaled more than 11 inches – The most since the February 2011 storm that closed down the city’s famous Lake Shore Drive.

Police in suburban Detroit have also said that heavy snow was believed to have caused a roof to collapse at an empty building in Lake Orion. Nobody was hurt. More than 16 inches of snow fell on nearby Flint, Michigan.

Missouri transportation officials have also said that it was too cold for rock salt to become effective, and several Illinois roadways have closed because of the drifting snow.

More than 1000 flights were cancelled at airports throughout the Midwest, including Chicago, Indianapolis, and St. Louis. Many cities also came to a virtual standstill. In St. Louis, where more than 10 inches of snow fell, the Gateway Arch, the St. Louis Art Museum, and the St. Louis Zoo were part of the seemingly endless list of things that have closed. Shopping malls and movie theaters were closed too. Even Hidden Valley Ski Resort, which is the region’s only ski area, has shut down.

Schools were also closed in the entire state of Minnesota, as well as cities and districts in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio, among others. Public School officials in Chicago reversed an earlier decision to keep their schools open, announcing late in the day that classes will be closed tomorrow.

Government offices and courts in several states closed Monday. In Indiana, the General Assembly postponed the opening day of its 2014 season, as well as the state appellate courts, including the Indiana Supreme Court, said that they would be closed.

More than 40,000 homes and businesses in Indiana, 16,000 in Illinois, and 2,000 in Missouri, were without power.

Ray Radlich is one of those volunteers at the New Life Evangelistic Center, a St. Louis homeless shelter, who braved the cold to search for the homeless and bring them to shelters. Among those who Radlich and his team brought in was 55-year-old Garcia Salvaje, who had been homeless since a fire burned down his apartment. Salvaje was a veteran who had surgery for three months ago for a spinal problem. The cold makes the pain from his still-healing back intense.

Salvaje says that he gets all achy and pained all the way up to his feet, to his legs, and to his spine.

Southern states were also bracing for possible record temperatures too, with single-digit highs expected in Georgia and Alabama.

Temperatures plunged into the 20s in north Georgia, which became the cold start of dangerously frigid temperatures for the first part of the week. The Georgia Department of Transportation has said that their crews were also prepared to respond to reports of black ice in north Georgia.

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