| NEW YORK
Jan 6,2016 : A blast of Arctic air gripped the mid-section of the United States on Monday, bringing the coldest temperatures in two decades, forcing businesses and schools to close and causing widespread airline delays and hazardous driving conditions.
Meteorologists said temperatures were dangerously cold and life-threatening in some places, with 0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 18 Celsius) recorded in Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis. The chill was set to bear down on eastern and southern states as the day wore on.
The frigid temperatures in the United States mirrored or outdid those in such parts of the world as Almaty, Kazakhstan where it was minus 2 degrees F (minus 19 C); Mongolia, where temperatures reached minus 10 degrees F (minus 23 C) and Irkutsk, in Siberia, where it was minus 24 degrees F (minus 31 C).
In the United States, temperatures were 20 to 40 degrees below average in parts of Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska, according to the National Weather Service.
It issued warnings for life-threatening wind chills in western and central North Dakota, with temperatures as low as minus 60 F (minus 51 C).
“Cold temperatures and gusty winds associated with an arctic airmass will continue dangerously cold wind chills as far south as Brownsville, Texas and central Florida,” the National Weather Service said.
The last time Chicago was this cold was February 1996, according to Accuweather.com.
“The Arctic cold front responsible for the frigid blast will move through the East Coast Monday into Monday night and bring the coldest temperatures some have experienced in twenty years,” said Accuweather.com weather writer Mark Leberfinger.
Oklahoma City and Tulsa schools were closed because of the extreme temperatures.
“It’s a far cry from the days when our parents used to say ‘I used to walk uphill both ways in a snow storm to get to school,'” said Oklahoma City filmmaker Cacky Poarch, 45, the mother of two children.
“Now, we just say, ‘It’s cold. No school today,'” Poarch said.
The Arctic airmass will slam the eastern two-thirds of the country through mid-week, the National Weather Service said.
Indiana was particularly hard hit. Offices and schools were closed in Indianapolis and businesses were asked to close at least until noon, if not all day, due to temperatures and wind chill conditions.