SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

January 28, 2014

Normal routines on ice after deep freeze in Midwest

CHICAGO — Parents brought kids to work or just stayed home because schools were closed, again. Office workers hailed cabs to ride a block — or less. And companies offering delivery services were inundated with business as Arctic air blasted the central U.S. yesterday for the second time in weeks, disrupting the lives of even the hardiest Midwesterners.

As temperatures and wind chills plummeted throughout the day, even simple routines were upended by the need to bundle up, with anyone venturing outdoors being well advised to layer up with clothing, coats, hats, scarves and gloves.

And there’s no quick relief in sight as subzero highs were expected to dominate across the region into today.

“This is similar to what we had three weeks ago” in terms of life-threatening conditions, said Sarah Marquardt, a National Weather Service meteorologist. “With wind chills in the minus 30 to minus 40 range, you can get frostbite within 10 minutes on exposed skin.”

In Chicago, temperatures had fallen below zero by yesterday afternoon with wind chills in the negative double-digits.

“We had two (employees) call in because they couldn’t come to work because of the school closings, and another called in sick,” said Kristelle Brister, the manager of a Chicago Starbucks, who was forced to bring her 9-year-old son to work after the city shut down its 400,000-student school system for the day.

Residents of Minnesota and Wisconsin faced similar if even somewhat more severe weather. Wind chills in the minus 40s were expected in Minneapolis, while in Milwaukee the chill hit minus 23 by midafternoon. Elsewhere, wind chills of minus 18 were expected in Dayton, Ohio, minus 14 in Kansas City, Mo., and minus 3 in Louisville, Ky.

The chill yesterday was enough to keep even the hardiest people off the streets, including the customers of the Hollywood Tan salon in the southwestern Illinois’ community of Belleville.

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