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Polar vortex brings frigid temperatures, icy conditions to the Midwest

Much of the American Midwest is experiencing a deep freeze that will bring with it the lowest temperatures seen in a generation. Arctic air and icy conditions led schools to close, flights to be canceled and railway officials to set fires on train tracks to prevent them from cracking. Judy Woodruff reports on the polar vortex.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Much of the American Midwest is in the grip of a visitor from the North Pole and it is moving east. Forecasters warn the arctic blast will mean the lowest temperatures in a generation.

    The deep freeze has descended. Ice choked waterways in Chicago today and railway officials there set fires to keep frozen tracks from cracking. The frigid weather iced over the river in Detroit as well, and prompted warnings everywhere.

  • Joe Hogsett:

    At these temperatures, even 10 minutes of exposure may very well be harmful.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All of this is the work of a polar vortex, a low-pressure mass that normally sits near the Earth's poles moving from North Dakota to Ohio. By tomorrow, readings in Minnesota and the Dakotas are expected to fall to minus-30 degrees, with a windchill of minus-60.

    Schools are taking no chances. They have already canceled classes in Minneapolis and St. Paul through at least Wednesday.

  • Joe Gothard:

    There could be many unintended, unforeseen things that take place that could expose a child to dangerous temperatures for a prolonged period of time.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Wisconsin has declared a state of emergency, and so have Michigan and Illinois. The bitter cold has raised fears for the homeless. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer visited a warming center in Lansing today.

  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D-Mich.:

    This is an event unlike any we have seen in a generation, and I think it's really important that we protect people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Snowplows have been busy, and dangerous roads caused chaos on Monday.

  • Woman:

    It's rough, slippery, and it's nasty. I'm hoping that it stops.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Air travel was also a casualty, as icy runways canceled more than 1,000 flights at O'Hare International Airport. And Chicago police body-cam footage captured the dramatic rescue of a man who jumped into Lake Michigan to save his dog. Temperatures are expected to plunge even lower on Wednesday.

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