The Upper Midwest remains locked in the deep freeze, with bitter temperatures stretching into a fourth day across several states.
The weather was so cold Tuesday that Chicago firefighters found their equipment was freezing as they tried to beat back a fire in a warehouse.
The five-alarm fire ripped through a warehouse in Chicago’s south side Tuesday night and below-freezing temperatures made it difficult for firefighters to hose it down.
The cold snap arrived Saturday night as waves of Arctic air swept south from Canada, pushing temperatures to dangerous lows and even leaving a section of the country hardened to winter’s pains reeling.
Authorities suspect exposure has played a role in at least four deaths so far.
‘I am wearing a Snuggie under a top and another jacket over that,’ said Faye Whitbeck, president of the chamber of commerce in International Falls, Minnesotta, a town near the Canadian border where the temperature was -30C on Tuesday morning.
The so-called ‘Nation’s Icebox’ reached a balmy -3C for a high. ‘I pulled out a coat that went right to my ankles this morning and I wore two scarves,’ Miss Whitbeck added.
The coldest location in the lower 48 states Monday was Embarrass, Minnesota, at -36C, according to the National Weather Service.
Forecasters said late Tuesday that overnight temperatures wouldn’t get that low, but warned it was still frigid.
Temperatures have already or will approach levels not reached in the past two to four years in a number of locations by the middle of the week from the Upper Midwest into the Northeast.
Weather expert Henry Margusity told AccuWeather: ‘The coldest air mass in North America was sitting just north of the Great Lakes over central and northern Ontario and western and central Quebec Tuesday morning.’
Temperatures reached below 40C in these areas and dipped below zero from northern New England to much of Michigan and areas near and north of Chicago.
‘The air just north of the Great Lakes is colder than that over the North Pole,’ Margusity said.
And forecasters warn there’s more to come. The cold front will stick around through the weekend from the Upper Midwest to the mid-Atlantic and New England. The bitterly cold air will dissipate by the end of the week and will not move into the Deep South.
Nighttime temperatures around 10 degrees made it harder for Chicago firefighters to battle a warehouse blaze described by officials as one of the largest in recent years. The Chicago Sun-Times reported late Tuesday that more than 170 firefighters responded to the five-alarm inferno at an abandoned warehouse on the city’s South Side that took nearly three hours to get under control.
The Northeast was also feeling the chill from Ohio to Maine.
In Connecticut, overnight temperatures were expected to range from 0 to 10 degrees over the next several days, and the wind chill could make it feel as cold as -15C in some parts of the state. In Millinocket, Maine, residents awoke to temperatures of -9C.