January 27

Below-zero temperatures paralyze Midwest again

Wind chills in the minus 40s were expected in Minneapolis, while in Milwaukee the chill hit minus 23 by mid-afternoon.

By Don Babwin
The Associated Press

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 Artic air blasted the central U.S. on Monday for the second time in weeks, disrupting the lives of even the hardiest Midwesterners.

click image to enlarge

Anthony LaPorte of Jackson is covered in snow after snowblowing out his driveway and sidewalk on the northeast side Jackson, Mich., on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. Gusting winds and blowing snow caused whiteout conditions Monday that made travel treacherous on some Michigan roadways, and hundreds of schools closed because of the severe weather.

AP Photo/Jackson Citizen Patriot, J. Scott Park

click image to enlarge

A lone bicyclist makes his way down a snow covered street onon the northeast side Jackson, Mich., on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. Gusting winds and blowing snow caused whiteout conditions Monday that made travel treacherous on some Michigan roadways, and hundreds of schools closed because of the severe weather.

AP Photo/Jackson Citizen Patriot, J. Scott Park

Additional Photos Below

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 Tuesday.

"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 Monday 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 mid-afternoon. 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 Monday 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.

"It's definitely a lot slower," said salon manager Kelly Benton, who wasn't expecting anything near the 100 tanners the salon sees on a typical day.

But the chill didn't keep crowds from Tiny Tots and Little Tykes Preschool and Child Care Center in West St. Paul, Minn., where the cold weather means a lot more jumping rope and riding around on scooters — anything to escape cabin fever and let kids burn off some energy.

"We're just trying to keep them busy, but it's definitely more of a challenge when you can't get outside," said ManaRae Schaan, the executive director.

The brutally cold weather has brought a spike in business for GrubHub Seamless, a company that lets users order food online from restaurants and have the food delivered.

"Across the board, restaurant and delivery drivers are dealing with an influx of orders," Allie Mack, a spokeswoman for the company said in an email.

Not only that, but people seem to appreciate the drivers more, with Mack saying that during the Polar Vortex earlier this month, tipping was up by double digits in Detroit, Cleveland, Minneapolis and Chicago. And, for some reason, deliveries of buffalo chicken sandwiches jumped 37 percent.

"You figure people are probably being more generous to their drivers because their drivers are the ones braving the conditions while you're on your couch in your pajamas," Mack said.

Chicago cabdriver Kumar Patel said the cold translates into bigger tips for him too.

But the chill also seems to trigger some bad behavior as well, he said.

"They get in and they say they have to smoke because it's so cold," Patel said.

Still, he said, he can pick up a lot of fares in a short time. "They are going a block, sometimes only a half block," Patel said.

The frigid weather also sent runners inside to health clubs or into stores to buy treadmills.

"Treadmills and ellipticals are the No. 1 seller now that conditions are terrible," said Dave O'Malley, manager of Chicago Home Fitness.

In Milwaukee, Michael Comerford, a 33-year-old barista, said Monday that he is making far fewer lattes than normal but expects the trend to reverse once the severe chill subsides.

"Once it gets warmer, like the single digits or teens, it feels like a heat wave so people come out again," he said.

It is the same for Brandon Kulosa, whose business is getting rid of critters that become dissatisfied with their homes and move into ours.

"They hunker down when it gets this cold," said Kulosa, co-owner of Animal Trackers Wildlife Co. in suburban Chicago.

Not only that, he said, but the ones that already have gotten into your attic seem to recognize they have it pretty good and should not draw attention to themselves and risk eviction.

"You could have a raccoon up in your attic just sleeping," said his partner, Tony Miltz. "They're not going anywhere."

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Iowa state patrol officers block Sundown Road going south out of Peosta, Iowa, on Monday due to heavy drifting and blowing snow.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Roger Homrich has snow accumulate on his hat and jacket as he clears snow from a Bridge St. sidewalk in Grand Rapids, Mich., Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. Grand Rapids is experiencing single digit temperatures and sub-zero wind chills.

AP Photo/The Grand Rapids Press, Chris Clark

click image to enlarge

A worker clears the sidewalk at The Radisson Hotel in downtown Fargo, N.D., as temperatures of 20 degrees below zero and snow overnight brought out the shovels and snowblowers Monday, Jan. 27, 2014.The deep freeze that hit earlier this month has returned, bringing with it wind chills ranging from the negative teens to 40s, cancelations of schools, trains, flights and signs of resignation from parents forced to bring kids to work and residents who are tired of bundling up.

AP Photo/Bruce Crummy



Further Discussion

Here at OnlineSentinel.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)