Polar vortex brings coldest air in a generation

32 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
12:17 p.m. ET, January 30, 2019

Red Cross says hundreds of blood drives canceled, has "emergency need" for blood

The American Red Cross says the winter weather has led to the cancellation of 370 blood drives across the country, with more than 11,500 blood donations going uncollected this month.

"The Red Cross currently has an emergency need for blood and platelet donors of all types to help ensure lifesaving medical treatments and emergency care are not delayed or canceled this winter," spokesperson Stephanie Rendon said in an email.

Anyone not impacted can make an appointment by using the Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

11:57 a.m. ET, January 30, 2019

At least 5 deaths linked to extreme cold and weather

At least five deaths have been linked to the extreme snow and weather:

  • In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the County's Medical Examiner's office told CNN that a 55-year-old man was found frozen in his garage Tuesday morning.
  • An off-duty Ligonier, Indiana, police officer and his wife were killed after their car lost control on a snowy road, hitting an oncoming car. Ethan Kiser, 22, and his wife Shawna, 21, died on Monday.
  • A man was killed on Monday morning in Libertyville, Illinois, after being struck by a plow truck and a pedestrian.
  • On Sunday morning, Rochester, Minnesota resident Ali Alfred Gombo, 22, was found dead outside his relative's home where he lived.
11:35 a.m. ET, January 30, 2019

4 racers remain in Minnesota ultramarathon, where it's -31 degrees at the finish line

A participant in the  Arrowhead 135
A participant in the  Arrowhead 135  Arrowhead 135

There were seven racers left this morning in the 135-mile race in Minnesota. Since then, one has dropped out and two have finished according to Arrowhead 135 race officials.

That leaves four racers on the course, still battling the horrific temperatures.

It's insanely cold out there: Temperature at the finish line has risen a bit to -31 degrees (it was -35 this morning). The windchill is still -52.

More about the race: Runners start in International Falls, Minnesota, and make a 135-mile slog to the finish at the Fortune Bay Casino in Tower, Minnesota. They can either run, bike, ski or kick sled.

They're equipped with mandatory survival gear and are encouraged to self-rescue —there's only three checkpoints in the race. Krueger says only one racer has quit because of frostbite.  

Today is the final day of the race; participants have until 7:00 p.m. to finish.

To track the participants progress, click here.

11:27 a.m. ET, January 30, 2019

More than 2,000 flights have been canceled today

So far today, 2,190 flights into, out of and within the US have been canceled, according to FlightAware.

Another 1,125 US flights have been delayed.

Right now, the most delays are at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport:

11:14 a.m. ET, January 30, 2019

New Yorkers may face dangerous conditions on tonight's commute

New York City Emergency Management warned of dangerous travel conditions during tonight's evening commute.

According to the National Weather Service, an "intense burst of moderate to heavy blowing snow" is expected to blow through New York City this afternoon.

"This intense burst of snowfall combined with strong wind gusts may cause brief whiteout conditions, limiting visibility and making travel extremely dangerous," the emergency office said in a statement.

New York officials are urging commuters to...

  • Take mass transit, if possible
  • Delay travel
  • Exit highways before the snow squall arrives.

Read more from NYC Emergency Management:

10:59 a.m. ET, January 30, 2019

Why this freeze is stopping beer deliveries in the Midwest

With a historic deep freeze gripping the Midwest, beer deliveries are on hold in some parts of the region.

Here's why: Temperatures are so low that beer freezes on the trucks before it can be delivered. Beer freezes around 32 degrees or slightly lower, depending on the alcohol content.

Kegged beer in trucks froze Tuesday, before temperatures even reached their coldest.

"Most of the folks up north are not delivering," says Mike Madigan, president of Minnesota Beer Wholesalers Association. "Most distributors are not delivering in the Twin Cities, down south and out west."

A possible solution: Some distributors are transporting beer in heated trucks; that sounds gross, but it's the only way to get it delivered right now. However, in the Midwest, only a few distributors have those type of trucks.

10:39 a.m. ET, January 30, 2019

It's so cold in Chicago, they're lighting tracks on fire to keep the trains moving

A surprised Instagram user took video of Chicago Transit Authority train tracks on fire this morning.

"You know it’s cold in Chicago when CTA lights the train tracks on fire," he posted on Instagram.

What this is all about: The extreme cold can cause rail defects. The frigid temperatures can shrink metal, causing rail connections to separate. Crews sometimes set fire to the rails to warm the metal and make it expand, so workers can repair connections.

Chicago's Merta Rail explained the process in an Instagram post.

Check out Wade Horvath's video:

10:34 a.m. ET, January 30, 2019

A wall of steam is surrounding Chicago's freezing Lake Michigan

Susana Leyva took video of steam coming off of Chicago's Lake Michigan this morning. The fog formed a virtual wall around the water.

Why this is happening: Steam can come off the lakes when the water — or the ice — is warmer than the cold air above it.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration explains it like this: "As cold, dry air moved over the lakes, it mixed with warmer, moister air rising off the lake surfaces, transforming the water vapor into fog — a phenomenon known as steam fog."

Take a look:

10:19 a.m. ET, January 30, 2019

There are 7 runners in Minnesota trying to finish an ultramarathon in the insane cold

Arrowhead 135
Arrowhead 135

It's -35 degrees, in Tower, Minnesota, the finish line for the Arrowhead 135. The windchill is -52.

Despite the absurd cold, some of the runners still finished the race. Some of them crossed the finish line with faces completely encased in ice. Seven runners are still on the course.

"It's not for the average person, that's for sure," Arrowhead 135 race director Ken Krueger told CNN.

Krueger said people from all over the world travel to compete in it. There wasn't even a discussion to postpone or cancel the race because of the polar temperatures.

"They know it's a tough race and honestly people want a tough race," Krueger says. "People want the bragging rights about finishing in the tough years."

Here's a look at some of the participants this morning:

More about the race: Runners start in International Falls, Minnesota, and make a 135-mile slog to the finish at the Fortune Bay Casino in Tower, Minnesota. They can either run, bike, ski or kick sled.

They're equipped with mandatory survival gear and are encouraged to self-rescue —there's only three checkpoints in the race. Krueger says only one racer has quit because of frostbite.  

Today is the final day of the race; participants have until 7:00 p.m. to finish.

The ultra-marathon is grueling, and most racers do not finish. If the final seven runners still on the course finish, that'll mean 13 of 64 runners that started will finish.

None of the skiers or kick sledders finished. Of the bikers, only 39 out of 75 finished.  

To track the final seven participants progress, click here.