CHICAGO (AP) — Frigid, subzero temperatures and winter weather descended across a wide swath of the central and eastern United States on Sunday, with temperatures expected to plummet further overnight.
Some Midwestern residents were digging out from nearly a foot of snow that fell by Sunday afternoon, and grocery stores there sold out of essentials. Hazardous travel conditions in many states led to canceled flights and prompted warnings from transportation officials that only those who absolutely need to venture out should do so. Some schools canceled Monday classes, and local governments and charities worked to be sure shelters were available for anyone who needed them.
Even the South will be affected by the "polar vortex" of cold air, with temperatures there set to fall well below normal on Monday and Tuesday.
Temperatures are expected to dip into the 30s in parts of Florida on Tuesday, but the state's citrus industry isn't expecting any damage to crops. A spokesman for Florida Citrus Mutual said it must be at 28 degrees or lower for four hours straight for fruit to freeze badly.
Chicago Public School officials on Sunday reversed course, canceling classes for Monday ahead of the expected bitterly cold temperatures. The change in plans comes after withering criticism from the Chicago Teachers Union, though officials said they made the decision after they "evaluated the situation again." Temperatures were expected to dip to minus 15 degrees on Monday, with wind chills of 40 to 50 below zero possible. The city was also walloped by snow on Sunday.
A winter storm had dropped nearly a foot of snow on parts of northern and central Indiana by Sunday evening, and the National Weather Service said totals in some areas could reach up to 14 inches. Gov. Mike Pence ordered nearly 100 Indiana National Guard members to be ready to help rescue stranded motorists, move people to shelters and assist local emergency services workers in reaching people who need medical help. The state General Assembly postponed Monday's opening of its 2014 session.
Even though the initial forecast for snow has been scaled back, flights for Monday and Tuesday were canceled at Barkley Regional Airport in Paducah. Organizations including churches and the Salvation Army were planning to open warming centers in some cities.
With two frigid nights on the way, New Orleans' city government said its freeze plan is in effect. All shelters will be open free of charge to people who need to get out of the cold. The city also encouraged residents to check on neighbors and the elderly.
Continue reading this story on the...