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Bitter cold weather sweeping across United States

Schools across the Midwest are closing Monday because of the dangerous cold, made worse by a wind chill. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services

1/27/2014

Bitter cold weather is sweeping across the United States. The following is a round up by The Associated Press

Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS  — Schools across Indiana announced they'd be closed Monday, and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard urged businesses and organizations to at least delay their openings as another round of arctic air was forecast to push in and send wind chill below zero.

The National Weather Service issued wind chill warnings for portions of the state, saying values could reach 45 below zero in northwestern Indiana and approach 40 below elsewhere in northern and central Indiana from Monday morning through Tuesday morning.

Ballard urged residents of the state's largest city to gas up their vehicles and stock up on food Sunday before the bitter cold arrived.

"Due to extreme temps, I encourage schools, biz & organizations to delay opening Monday at minimum. Safety of anyone outside is top concern," Ballard tweeted.

Indianapolis also canceled trash pickup and curbside recycling through Wednesday.

Among the weather-related closures, Valparaiso University in northwestern Indiana canceled classes for Monday and Tuesday.

Passengers on the South Shore commuter trains in should expect weather-related delays on trains between Michigan City and Chicago early this week, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District said, explaining prolonged sub-zero temperatures will strain mechanical and track systems. It said it would bus passengers between South Bend and Michigan City through Wednesday as a precaution.

Even before the chill set in, motorists in northern Indiana had to contend with a few more inches of fresh snow and blustery winds blowing snow across roads and lowering visibilities. A 15-mile stretch of Interstate 65 in White County and Interstates 80/94 in Lake County had numerous slide-offs, spin-outs, jackknifed semitrailers and other crashes, Indiana State Police Sgt. Ann Wojas said Sunday.

"Staying off the interstate entirely is the safest option. Use alternate routes," Wojas said.

Seven central and northern Indiana counties — Steuben, Fulton, Wabash, Huntington, Tipton, Jay and Randolph — were limiting travel Sunday to emergency management workers only, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security said on its website. More than 40 other counties mostly in northern and eastern Indiana recommended only essential travel.

The Madison County Highway Department reported snowdrifts higher 10 feet Saturday in some areas of the county northeast of Indianapolis, The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin reported.

Ohio

BRYAN, Ohio — Schools are closing, driving is restricted and emergency agencies are urging Ohioans to heed safety warnings amid another deep freeze.

The National Weather Service put most of Ohio under a wind chill warning Monday as temperatures dropped and forecasters predicted wind chills well below zero into Tuesday. They warned of wind gusts reaching 35 to 45 mph, with blizzard conditions in some rural areas.

The Ohio Turnpike banned certain large vehicles and trailers from the toll road Monday morning because of high wind.

Paulding and Williams counties in northwest Ohio were under snow emergencies closing roads to everyone except emergency workers. Dozens more counties had lower-level snow emergencies for hazardous roads, asking people to avoid driving if possible.

Akron, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo were among the largest school districts closed.

Chicago

CHICAGO — A Chicago area rail agency is warning commuters to leave extra time for the morning commute because of the cold weather.

In a statement, Metra says trains are likely to be delayed with subzero temperatures and wind chills forecast for this week.

Trains will be operating at reduced speeds if necessary to reduce stress on the rails. Agency officials say cold weather also usually leads to slower boarding.

The agency had troubles with switching earlier this month during a blast of cold weather. Also six passengers were hospitalized with minor injuries when a commuter train hit a "bumping post" at a downtown station.

Metra says personnel will work to keep switches operational and have trains ready for service. However, it's difficult because work on switches must be performed outside.

Chicago airports

CHICAGO  — Cold, windy and snowy weather has prompted airlines flying in and out of Chicago's two major airports to cancel nearly 400 flights.

The city's Department of Aviation announced Sunday in a telephone recording that O'Hare International Airport canceled more than 265 flights as of 8:30 p.m. Sunday. At Midway International Airport, more than 130 flights had been canceled and some were delayed up to 2 hours.

With temperatures expected to plummet below zero on Monday, many more flights could be canceled. During another cold snap earlier this month, airlines canceled more than 1,000 flights in Chicago over a two-day period.

The aviation department recommends travelers and those picking up travelers visit the airlines' web sites for flight status before coming to the airports.

Dakotas

BISMARCK, N.D. — Residents of North Dakota and South Dakota dealt with dangerous cold, high winds and blowing snow on Sunday that caused whiteout conditions and treacherous travel throughout much of the two states.

The storm, the most recent in a wave of heavy storms to hammer the Dakotas, packed powerful wind gusts that reached up to 60 mph over much of North Dakota and the northern portion of South Dakota on Sunday, said Adam Jones, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Grand Forks.

It was nearly impossible to travel in some areas of the two states. Officials closed the eastbound lanes of Interstate 94 from Bismarck to Fargo early Sunday afternoon due to zero visibility and multiple accidents. No injuries were immediately reported. Officials also closed U.S. Highway 83 from Bismarck to Minot, and Interstate 29 from the Canadian border to the South Dakota border on Sunday.

Jones said the wind chill was expected to plunge as low as 60 degrees below zero Sunday night over parts of the Dakotas, creating life-threatening conditions.

A series of Alberta clippers have swept down from Canada into the Northern Plains in the past couple of weeks, bringing light snow, strong winds and cold temperatures.

"This is definitely the most widespread event we've had this year," Jones said.

Sustained high winds in the two states made it near impossible to measure snowfall amounts, he said.

"It's blowing around so much it's hard to get a reading," Jones said.

High winds and blowing snow also caused conditions that were too wintry for some skiers and snowmobilers.

A popular ski area south of Bismarck and Mandan was closed Sunday. Huff Hills manager Andy Beck said the high winds made it unsafe to operate the facility's chairlifts, the second time this year that has happened.

"Closing two days in one year is pretty unheard of," Beck said. "It seems like when we get a little snow it comes with frigid temperatures and high winds. We just can't win."

In White, S.D, in the eastern part of the state, the brutal weather and winds kept Julie Westberg from firing up her snowmobile.

"I'm a fair-weather rider," said Westberg, who is the president of a local snowmobile club.