(ABC News) – Deadly cold temperatures refused to loosen their grip on much of the country for a second straight day, spreading the bone-chilling weather this time to the Northeast and South.
Wind chill advisories and warnings today are in effect for 32 states from Montana to southern Florida today. Washington D.C. is expected to see its coldest morning in 18 years and if they get to 5 degrees today, it will tie a daily record low that was set 130 years ago. The wind chill in the nation’s capital is expected to be eight below zero. Detroit is forecasting a high temperature of 1 degree below zero and a wind chill of minus 37 degrees.
The unrelenting cold will push wind chills in northern Florida to as low as 9 degrees and minus 6 degrees in Atlanta. In New York City just before dawn Tuesday, temperatures were in the single digits and the wind howled, sending commuters sucrrying down wind-swept streets.
Relief is on the way as wind chill warnings are to expire today in the Midwest as the polar air begins to retreat north and temperatures will make a gradual upward climb through the end of the week.
In the Chicago area, authorities reported that four people died over the weekend while shoveling snow. Chicago saw a record low temperature of minus 16 degrees Monday, with wind chills making it feel like minus 48. Chicagoans have renamed their city “Chiberia,” as Chicago is now colder than parts of Siberia.
Thirty-seven people in Ohio were rushed to the emergency room because of cold-related problems. Dr. Jeffrey Smith says his Milwaukee emergency room at Aurora Sinai Medical Center has seen a slew of weather-related injuries, including many with frostbite.
“Well really in as little as five minutes there can be damage to the skin. That’s really when it starts with frostbite,” Smith said.
Schools in Minneapolis and Chicago will remained closed for a second straight day. School districts across the South, including those in Atlanta, Alabama, the Carolinas and north Florida will also be closed today.
A state disaster declaration was issued Monday by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn due to Arctic temperatures not seen in two decades. Temperatures across the state are too low to use road salt, and even the diesel fuel in tow trucks is turning into gel.
Utility crews worked to restore power to more than 40,000 Indiana customers affected by the weekend storm and cautioned that some people could be in the cold and dark for days, according to The Associated Press. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence also issued a disaster declaration for his state.
The gigantic mass of swirling dense air known as a “polar vortex” has traveled from the Arctic, and is to blame for the subfreezing temperatures throughout the country. Forecasters said some 187 million people could feel the effects of the “polar vortex” by the time it spreads across the country.
Officials in numerous cities checked on the homeless and shut-ins for fear they might freeze to death. Temperatures in Lakeville, Minn., are expected to drop to negative 21 degrees. Jill Fisette-Kes is homeless and forced to ride out the cold in her van since the local shelter won’t allow her cats.
“And I still got to make it through February and March. So then come April, according to my calendar, it warms up. I’ll be okay,” she said.
Roads already treacherous after heavy snow this weekend throughout the Midwest are only worsening with temperatures dipping to record lows, creating a dicey situation with black ice on the pavement.
“It’s been tough. Just about 40 miles-an-hour,” said Gary Wilson who is trying to get to Pennsylvania from his home in northwest Indiana. “I got it locked in four-wheel drive and just taking my time. And there aren’t many cars on the highway so things have been moving pretty good.”
Illinois State Police spokesman Ted Rose told ABC News Monday his district, in central Illinois, received nearly a thousand calls from stranded motorists.
“As soon as we get the interstate open back up again, if you get two or three semis jackknifed, or even one jackknife across the roadway, it just shuts everything down,” Rose said.
Air traffic was once again snarled Monday, following a weekend of travel disruption across the U.S. More than 4,500 flights were canceled Monday and 13,780 delays, according to FlightAware.com.
More than 2,000 slights have already been canceled today and another 1,400 delayed, FlightAware.com report.