See the Chicago River Freeze and 'Smoke' Amid Frigid Winter Weather

The National Weather Service’s chill map as of 11 a.m. on Jan. 29

The National Weather Service’s chill map as of 11 a.m. on Jan. 29

A wave of frigid arctic air that paralyzed the US Midwest and caused at least a dozen deaths swept across the Northeast on Thursday but was expected to move along by the weekend, making way for warmer weather. Right now, it's the second coldest day on record at minus 24 F.

"Extreme weather conditions and an abundance of caution have led Amtrak to cancel all train originations to and from Chicago for Wednesday, Jan. 30, including short-distance corridor trains and long-distance overnight trains", the rail service announced.

USA media attributed at least four deaths to the extreme cold and the major snowstorm that preceded it.

Schools and businesses remained closed in several Midwestern states, people were encouraged to stay home, and travellers were stranded by grounded flights and halted trains. "Minus 20 in Minnesota and upper MI".

More than 1,600 flights were cancelled in Chicago by mid-morning. Those heading to the airport Wednesday morning should expect delays of more than 15 minutes.

At least 12 people have died due to the plummeting temperatures that have plunged the U.S. down to minus 40 degrees celsius this week.

"We are not done yet".

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All schools and district offices are closed as well as all district after school, recreation and athletic programs and events. Later this week, we could be seeing temperatures reach -40 degrees with wind chill.

Animals also had a tough time in the cold weather, including one horse who got itself wedged between two branches of a tree trunk in the subzero temperature.

Before the worst of the cold begins to lift, the National Weather Service said Chicago could hit lows early Thursday that break the city's record of minus 27 (minus 32 Celsius) set on January 20, 1985.

Local television pictures showed the Chicago River and Lake Michigan filled with chunks of ice. The severe weather on Wednesday could even surpass Chicago's coldest recorded temperature of minus-27 degrees.

If those conditions line up, they could "easily push" temperatures to minus-35 to minus-39 in Northern Illinois, the National Weather Service said Tuesday, which would jeopardise if not topple the state's coldest low. The battle against the cold is much the same across the upper Midwest.

Officials in multiple states warned that the extreme weather should be taken seriously, with the risk of hypothermia and frostbite setting in within minutes of exposure.

It's also now colder than Mars.

"We've gone from snow to freezing temperatures, wind chill", Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a news conference.

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Warming centers were opened for vulnerable residents such as the elderly and shelter capacities increased for the homeless.

The University of Iowa released a statement saying one of its students, Gerald Belz, was found dead on campus due to the harsh temperatures. This year, the concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is likely to rise beyond 410 parts per million, another record-breaking milestone.

"This is not over until noon tomorrow. I'm asking everyone who is able to please do the same", Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer wrote on Twitter.

Authorities in MI and Minnesota were also asking residents to turn down their thermostats to conserve natural gas.

City crews braved sub-zero weather to fix a number of frozen water main breaks that plagued Motor City neighbourhoods.

Chicago reported 22 broken water mains, 16 of which had already been repaired. Moline hit a new low late Wednesday night - the lowest temperature the city has ever recorded.

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