Arctic blast hits the U.S. with lowest temperatures in decades

BY newsdesk  January 7, 2014 at 11:01 AM EST

Freezing temperatures hit lows not seen in decades across the U.S. Still by PBS NewsHour

As the phrase “polar vortex” enters the public’s vocabulary, mercury in thermometers continued to drop this week with forecasts across the U.S. calling for highs in the single digits.

A deep freeze delivered dangerously low temperatures to regions across the country. The Associated Press reported that nearly 187 million people were under a wind chill advisory or warning Tuesday — more than half of the country’s population.

Bitter cold shut down many schools and brought lows not seen in decades to several cities from the Midwest to the East Coast.

The freeze brought further problems to the Midwest. Thousands of people in Indiana still remain without power in the cold after heavy, wet snow blanketed the northern areas of the state Sunday. Local news reported that, at the height of the storm, as many as 67,000 people were without power during the freeze. Outside of Chicago, 500 passengers spent the night aboard three Amtrak trains unable to travel due to snow and ice accumulation on the tracks.

On the PBS NewsHour’s Monday broadcast, the mayors of Midwest cities Minneapolis and St. Louis discussed their plans for tackling the cold temperatures and the help they were offering vulnerable citizens.

People looking to escape the freeze may be out of luck as well. The New York Times reported that more than 18,000 flights have been canceled since Thursday, with 4,400 flights alone canceled Monday.