Snow wallops US Midwest as it braces for extreme cold

Chicago (AFP) –


The US Midwest was digging out Monday from a snowstorm that closed schools and businesses, as it braced for "extreme and dangerous" sub-zero temperatures forecast to arrive overnight.

School districts in Minnesota and Wisconsin canceled classes and government offices, universities and businesses shuttered, with the mercury expected to drop to a polar -65 Fahrenheit (-54 Celsius) in gusting wind.

The states were deluged by up to nine inches (23 cm) of snow in some places, as a wide-reaching storm moved through.

Hundreds of flights were canceled at two airports in Chicago, a major regional hub and America's third city, in neighboring Illinois.

On the heels of the storm, nearly a dozen states braced for a blast of arctic air known as a polar vortex.

"Extreme and dangerous COLD! is forecast this week from the Northern Plains through the Great Lakes," the National Weather Service (NWS) tweeted.

The frigid air mass had veered from its usual path and was forecast to chill the region by early Tuesday morning, lasting through Thursday.

"The arctic air, together with brisk winds, can lead to dangerously cold wind chill values," NWS said.

Temperatures were expected to plummet to between -10 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 to -40 Celsius) in a vast area stretching some 1,200 miles (1900 km) from the Dakotas to parts of Ohio.

Wind chill would make temperatures feel more like -30 to -65 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 to -54 Celsius), according to NWS.