By the numbers: Midwestern US endures worst of polar vortex, all-time record lows broken
Records are being shattered and communities are enduring the harshest cold in years as the polar vortex tightens its grip on the midwestern United States.
After the polar vortex plunged southward, temperatures plummeted under 20 below zero F from North Dakota to northern Illinois on Wednesday morning.
Biting winds made the extreme cold more life-threatening as AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures dropped under 50 below zero. Frostbite can occur in mere minutes on exposed skin in these conditions.
Among the deaths from the snow and cold that struck the Midwest was a man found frozen to death in a garage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to the Associated Press.
The cold has also led to widespread school closures, major travel disruptions and even the suspension of mail service.
Chicago was among the many locations that shattered record lows on Wednesday morning, but it is the magnitude and persistence of the cold that is posing the greatest dangers to the millions of people and animals across the region.
"An entire generation has gone without by without experiencing this type of cold in the Chicago area," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
Before the Arctic outbreak eases later this week, a large swath of the Midwest can endure one to three consecutive days of subzero temperatures.
Much to the relief of residents, the deep freeze will be replaced by a surge of milder air this weekend. Temperatures can dramatically swing 40 to 70 degrees higher than the lowest readings this week.
Commuters braves the wind and snow in frigid weather, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)