Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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January 7, 2014

Dangerous temps push across US

Chicago sets chilling record for date at 16 below zero.

(Continued)

“You can always put on more layers,” she said. “When it gets hot, you can only take off so much.”

For a big swath of the Midwest, the subzero cold moved in behind another winter wallop: more than a foot of snow and high winds that made traveling treacherous.

Nearly 3,200 flights — one out of every 10 domestic departures — were canceled Monday morning, following a weekend of travel disruption across the U.S. Airline officials said de-icing fluid was freezing, fuel was pumping sluggishly, and ramp workers were having difficulty loading and unloading luggage.

Authorities in Indiana and Kentucky — where temperatures dropped into the single digits and below, with wind chills in the minus 20s and worse — warned people not to leave their homes at all unless they needed to go someplace safer.

Utility crews worked to restore power to more than 40,000 Indiana customers affected by the weekend storm and cautioned that some people could be in the cold and dark for days.

Ronald G. Smith Sr. took shelter at an Indianapolis Red Cross after waking up the previous night with the power out and his cat, Sweet Pea, agitated in the darkness.

“The screen door blew open and woke me up, and it was cold and dark. I got dressed and I was scared, thinking, ‘What am I going to do? My cat knew something was wrong. He was jumping all over the place,” Smith said. “This is brutal cold. The cold is what makes this so dangerous.”

Even after Indianapolis lifted a travel ban, officials urged residents to stay home for their own safety and that of police and other emergency workers.

“It’s still slick out there,” said Marc Lotter, a spokesman for the mayor. “It’s just not safe for people to be out on the streets.”

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