CHICAGO (AP) — Much of the country grappled Monday with a historic freeze that shuttered schools and businesses at the start of the first full work week of 2014. Flights, trains and bus transportation were disrupted, thousands were left without power and even parts of the country used to fending off hypothermia and frostbite had to take extra precautions as temperatures and wind chills approached record levels.
Here are five things to know about the deep freeze.
1. COLD OUTSIDE? YOU'RE NOT ALONE
Nearly 187 million people, more than half of the nation's population, were under a wind chill warning or advisory Monday.
The winds made it feel like 55 below zero in International Falls, Minn., and parts of the Midwest accustomed to temperatures that are cold — albeit seldom this cold.
But even the coal fields of Virginia and West Virginia, the wind chill was negative 35.
Every major weather-reporting station in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin reported temperatures below zero at 11 a.m. Monday, and South Dakota would have joined them if not for the reading of 1 at Rapid City.
The coldest temperature reported in a 24-hour period through Monday was -36 degrees at Crane Lake, Minn. The warmest: 84 at Hollywood and Punta Gorda, Fla.
2. FLY AWAY FROM THE WEATHER? THINK AGAIN
Nearly 3,200 flights — one out of every 10 domestic departures — were canceled Monday morning, following a weekend of travel disruption across the country. The bulk of those cancellations were in Chicago, Cleveland, New York and Boston.
"It's been one weather system after another," said Delta Air Lines spokesman Morgan Durrant. "It's been a challenging 72 hours."
With wind chills as low as 45 below zero at some airports, workers could only remain exposed on the ramp for a few minutes. That made loading and unloading luggage a challenge.
American Airlines said temperatures are so cold at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport that fuel and de-icing liquids were actually frozen. United Airlines said its fuel is pumping slower than normal in Chicago.